Wales coach Wayne Pivac has resisted the temptation to start with match-winning flyhalf Gareth Anscombe for Saturday’s final Test against the Springboks at Cape Town Stadium.
Cape Town – Wales coach Wayne Pivac has resisted the temptation to start with match-winning flyhalf Gareth Anscombe for Saturday’s final Test against the Springboks at Cape Town Stadium (5.05pm kick-off).
Anscombe made a significant difference to the Welsh effort in the second half of last week’s 13-12 victory in Bloemfontein, while he also landed the touchline conversion that clinched a dramatic late triumph.
He had replaced captain Dan Biggar, who went off with a shoulder injury that had placed him in doubt for the third Test.
Biggar had also missed a few crucial kicks in the two Tests, and it would have been a bold move by Pivac to leave out his captain for Anscombe this weekend.
But was not to be, with Biggar named at No.10 on Thursday when Pivac announced his side. The only change in the starting XV sees Josh Adams – who scored the try that set up Anscombe’s conversion – replacing the injured Alex Cuthbert at left wing.
Tighthead prop Dillon Lewis sustained an arm injury at the Free State Stadium, but has been passed fit to take on the Bok scrum on Saturday.
So, the only new face on the bench is Owen Watkin, who comes in for Adams.
Outside centre George North will set a new record as the most-capped Wales back of all time when he earns his 105th Test cap for his country, going past former flyhalf Stephen Jones. North is also the third-most-capped Welsh player, behind Alun Wyn Jones (152) and Gethin Jenkins (129).
“Most people had written us off before we left Wales, and to be in this position with an opportunity to win this series it’s a great position for us to be in. It’s fantastic that there’s something to play for in this Test match,” Pivac said in a statement on Thursday.
“However, it’s been a tough training week because we’ve been a bit banged up as you’d expect after two very physical Test matches. So, to have the majority of the squad that we arrived on these shores with available is a pretty good state to be in, and we are really looking forward to the weekend.
“The atmosphere on match-day has been excellent. South African fans are very loud, they support their side, and they let you know what they are thinking of the occasion. It’s an environment that tests you, and the players have so far stood up in both matches.
“We’re looking forward to another full house, and another crowd that really gets behind the occasion and makes it a special one.”
Wales Team (15-1): Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar (captain), Kieran Hardy, Taulupe Faletau, Tommy Reffell, Dan Lydiate, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Dillon Lewis, Ryan Elias, Gareth Thomas.
Bench (16-23): Dewi Lake, Wyn Jones, Sam Wainwright, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Owen Watkin.