Wales to stick to their guns

2014-06-13 05:00
Warren Gatland (Gallo Images)

Durban - One thing that never appears to change about the Welsh in a build-up to a Test match against South Africa is their identification of what it will take to beat the Springboks.

And on Thursday, after naming what looks a strong and experienced team for Saturday’s first Test at Kings Park, Wales coach Warren Gatland didn’t disappoint, according to the supersport.com website.

What does it take to beat the Boks?

You need to match and outdo them in the physicality stakes, and that is what the Welsh will be out to do at the weekend, as they have countless times before over many decades but particularly during the regular clashes these teams have had during the post-isolation era.

To be fair, the Welsh are not the only international team that highlights the physical aspect before a Bok game, they pretty much all do.

That suggests they may have a point, although clearly if you look at the record books, most teams other than New Zealand appear to struggle when it comes to actually getting out there and turning the pre-game intent into onfield deeds.

As the old saying which used to be applied by opposing coaches to the Bulls goes, knowing how to stop them is one thing, but being able to do it is another entirely.

But while Wales have only beaten the Boks once in their history, their failures have never been for the lack of trying and there doesn’t appear to be too much confidence lacking from the visiting team ahead of Saturday’s first Test.

While some local media have described the Welsh as under-strength, Gatland, who has been to this country in many guises but has yet to leave it as a series winning coach, hotly contests that contention.

He says his team is definitely not here to make up the numbers, thus confirming the view expressed by Springbok management members earlier in the week that the Welsh are putting in an extra effort on this tour, something which was illustrated by their decision to hold a trial match ahead of the trip as well as organise a midweek game.

"We have a settled side, and we just need to get ourselves into the arm wrestle on Saturday," he said.

"We have trained well and we’re going out there with the belief and the confidence that we can win.

"The big challenge for us is to match South Africa physically, they are always strong at driving linouets.

"They’ll bring a real physicality to the game, and even though they have a few key players missing in the midfield, the experience of JP Pietersen, even though he hasn’t played at outside centre at this level before, will play a big role.

"There are also a couple of youngsters, such as Jan Serfontein and Cornal Hendricks, who we will have to keep an eye on.

"But if we are patient and accurate, and can compete with South Africa physically, I think we’ll have a good chance.”

Unsurprisingly, the Welsh appear a bit emboldened by having watched the Boks struggle in the set-scrums against the World XV last week.

Although he noted that it was a strong World XV scrum that the South Africans played against, Gatland seemed surprised at their performance.

"It’s the first time I’ve really seen them under a bit of pressure, but it was a good World XV pack in terms of scrumming," said Gatland.

"You don’t often see a Springbok scrum under a bit of pressure, but that was their first time together this season and I am sure they would have done a lot of work on improving that aspect of their game this week."


15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cornal Hendricks, 13 JP Pietersen, 12 Jan Serfontein, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Fourie du Preez, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gurthrö Steenkamp

Substitutes: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 Tendai Mtawarira, 18 Coenie Oosthuizen, 19 Lood de Jager, 20 Schalk Burger, 21 Ruan Pienaar, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Lwazi Mvovo

15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Aaron Shingler, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Gethin Jenkins

Substitutes: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Paul James, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Ian Evans, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 James Hook, 23 Matthew Morgan


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