Springboks are clear favourites going into the first Test against Wales in Tshwane but there is a little bit of concern among locals that Jacques Nienaber’s men may be caught cold.
The Springboks have not played together as a unit for some time and the selection of Elton Jantjies at fly-half has added to the talking points by pundits and fans alike.
There are also suggestions that the Springboks could try some new styles in preparation for the Rugby Championship and with one eye on the World Cup in France next year.
With all that in the mix, all it takes the bounce of the ball to go Wales’ way and suddenly it’s interesting.
Springboks VS Wales
Salmaan Moerat and Elrigh Louw are in line to make their Springbok debuts from the bench against Wales in Saturday’s opening Incoming Series Test at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Moerat and Louw have been a stand-out performers for the Stormers and Bulls respectively in the United Rugby Championship (URC) this season and Nienaber will be expecting them to make a big impact off in what is a strong bench for the match.
Damian Willemse will start at fullback and Elton Jantjies at flyhalf in a backline featuring several familiar faces, in wings Makazole Mapimpi and Cheslin Kolbe, centres Lukhanyo Am and Damian de Allende, and scrumhalf Faf de Klerk.
In the front row, Frans Malherbe and Ox Nché will pack down on either side of Bongi Mbonambi (hooker), Eben Etzebeth and Lood de Jager will join forces at lock, and Springbok captain Siya Kolisi will form a loose trio with Franco Mostert and Jasper Wiese. Am will serve as vice-captain for the match.
On the Wales side, coach Wayne Pivac sprung a few surprises in his mission to try and neutralise the world champions.
The Wales coach has thrown Tommy Reffell in to start for his debut, with Kieran Hardy starting at scrum-half alongside Dan Biggar.
Dan Lydiate, recalled after a long-term injury, features in the back-row to help combat the world champions’ physicality.
Elsewhere, Alun Wyn Jones, no longer the squad captain, will start the match on the replacements bench behind Adam Beard and Will Rowlands, while George North starts his first Test since the final match of the 2021 Six Nations.