Preview: Wales v South Africa

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Wales’ second game of the 2021 autumn internationals sees reigning world champions South Africa visit the Principality Stadium on Saturday evening, 5.15pm kick-off.

Wayne Pivac’s men come into the game off the back of last week’s heavy loss at the hands of New Zealand in an out-of-window test, but will be hoping to get the campaign off to a start as the official games start with the full squad available for selection.

The Springboks of course come into the game off the back of a busy summer which saw them win the three-test series against the British & Irish Lions before coming second in The Rugby Championship, beating the All Blacks in the final game.

They do have a poor record in Cardiff in recent years, having lost on their last four visits to the Welsh capital, most recently in November 2018 when tries from Tomas Francis and Liam Williams, plus the respective boots of Dan Biggar and Gareth Anscombe secured a 20-11 victory for Wales, but South Africa did run out victorious the last time the sides met, in the 2019 World Cup semi-final.

Those summer games have taken their toll on the Springboks squad, with three key names of Pieter-Steph du Toit, Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe not available, but the strength in depth available to Jacques Nienaber sees Kwagga Smith, Herschel Jantjies and Jesse Kriel available to replace them.

South Africa: Damian Willemse, Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi, Handré Pollard, Herschel Jantjies; Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Trevor Nyakane, Eben Etzebeth, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi (c), Kwagga Smith, Duane Vermeulen

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn

Wayne Pivac is able to welcome a number of players back into his matchday 23 who were unavailable last weekend courtesy of playing in England, as Dan Biggar at fly-half, Nick Tompkins at inside centre and Louis Rees-Zammit on the wing replace Gareth Anscombe, Johnny Williams and Owen Lane, respectively.

There are also injury alterations as Will Rowlands replaces Alun Wyn Jones in the second row, while Ellis Jenkins will make a first international start for three years as he comes in for Ross Moriarty at blindside flanker. The other change is a tactical one as Rhys Carre is preferred to Wyn Jones at loosehead prop.

On the bench there are possible debuts for Bradley Roberts and WillGriff John as part of the cover front row, Ben Carter is the second row cover while Liam Williams is fit again to be the outside backs option.

Wales: Johnny McNicholl, Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonathan Davies (c), Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carré, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Will Rowlands, Adam Beard, Ellis Jenkins, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Wyn Jones, WillGriff John, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams

On a wet day at the Principality Stadium with the roof open due to coronavirus regulations, it’s going to be a tough afternoon for Wales up against the extremely physical Springboks who will have a serious advantage playing tight in open play and at the scrum.

The home side will need to see a serious improvement at the lineout and attempt to dominate the kicking and aerial game, as the likelihood of playing fast and wide with the team selected and in the forecast conditions seems minimal at best.

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