Teen ‘Welsh Lomu’ to debut for Wales in bold selection from Gatland

2010-11-12 00:00

THE Springboks have named a new 120 kg flank and an 18-year-old, 105 kg wing will make his debut for Wales in tomorrow afternoon’s rugby international at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.

The hefty Sharks flank, Willem Alberts, yesterday passed a fitness test and has taken team-mate Keegan Daniel’s place on the replacement bench. The formidable Alberts, a destructive player with or without the ball, played a pivotal role in the Sharks’ Currie Cup triumph.

He has recovered from a calf strain and is set to make his Test debut in the second half tomorrow.

“Willem has had an outstanding season for the Sharks as one of the most effective ball carriers in the South African game,” said Bok coach Peter de Villiers yesterday.

“He has been nursing the injury since the Currie Cup final and and is hungry to get back into action,” said De Villiers.

Wales have made three changes and one positional switch to their starting line-up after losing to the Wallabies at the weekend.

Coach Warren Gatland has handed a new cap to teenage wing George North, who locals have optimistically named the Welsh Lomu. North, almost two metres tall and 105 kg, has been in excellent form for the Scarlets in the Welsh league and he will be marking Bryan Habana.

Lee Byrne is back at fullback after injury, allowing Ospreys team-mate James Hook to move to centre where he takes over from Andrew Bishop.

Gatland has made just one change to the pack that impressed against the Wallabies, with flank Martyn Williams returning for his 97th cap in place of his injured Blues team-mate, Sam Warburton.

Ryan Jones (Ospreys) and Andy Powell (Wasps) both return to bench duty in place of the promoted Williams and Dieniol Jones (Blues) while Dan Biggar makes way for Bishop.

“We have ensured we will be combative up front,” said Gatland. “We have put a huge emphasis on forward play in training and we now know we can bring that kind of game into play when necessary,” said Gatland.

“We were happy with aspects of our performance against Australia, but you can’t work on everything in just a two week build up.

“The coaches have told the players they have a licence to be creative, to be confident with the ball in hand, to offload and to be positive in attack. We need to build on that performance last week.

“We know this is a bold selection, but we have always tried to look at the bigger picture and George [North], is the bigger picture and at 6ft 4 inches and 16 stone 7lbs he gives us quite a canvas to work with.

“There is no pressure on him, he just needs to go out and enjoy the experience of winning his first cap.

“With Lee Byrne back at fullback and James Hook hopefully with the ball in his hands more often at centre, we have plenty of experience and guile around in our back line and are simply looking for the same again up front.”

South Africa:

15 Gio Aplon, 14 Bjorn Basson, 13 Frans Steyn, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pierre Spies, 7 Juan Smith, 6 Deon Stegmann, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Bakkies Botha, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Beast Mtawarira.

Replacements: 16 Chiliboy Ralepelle, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Flip van der Merwe, 19 Willem Alberts, 20 Francois Hougaard, 21 Zane Kirchner, 22 Pat Lambie.

Wales:

15 Lee Byrne; 14 George North, 13 Tom Shanklin, 12 James Hook, 11 Shane Williams; 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Mike Phillips; 8 Gethin Jenkins, 7 Matthew Rees (C), 6 Adam Jones, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Alun Wyn Jones, 3 Dan Lydiate, 2 Martyn Williams, 1 Jonathan Thomas.

Replacements: 16 Huw Bennett, 17 Paul James, 18 Ryan Jones, 19 Andy Powell, 20 Richie Rees, 21 Andrew Bishop, 22 Chris Czekaj.

Referee: Steve Walsh (Aus).

Kick-off: 4.30 pm (SA time).

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