Depth test for Boks

2014-11-25 00:00

THE Springboks will be without a number of their overseas-based players as well as a few walking-wounded this week as they prepare for the final Test of the Northern Hemisphere tour.

As their match against Wales this Saturday falls outside the international Test window, the likes of Bryan Habana, Johan Goosen and JP Pietersen will all be ­unavailable.

Cornal Hendricks and Lwazi Mvovo look set to play on the wings, while Willie le Roux should resume duties at fullback, after Goosen started in his place against Italy last weekend.

Bok coach Heyneke Meyer will also have to make do without his first-choice tighthead prop Jannie du Plessis, who has still not recovered from a hamstring injury he picked up against England two weeks ago.

That should give Coenie Oosthuizen another start in the number three jersey after a good performance against Italy. Although one or two scrums didn’t go his way, Oosthuizen made his presence felt around the park and scored a good try from a neat running line.

Replacement flank Warren Whiteley will be cursing his luck as he still hasn’t recovered from a calf strain he picked up in training. The ­Lions captain would definitely have been an option on the bench this weekend.

There is a silver lining though, as loosehead prop Beast Mtawarira has been declared fit after recovering from a calf strain. Although Trevor Nyakane stepped up well against Italy in place of Beast, his return will make a welcome addition to the Bok pack.

Meanwhile Wales will benefit from having their French-based players available for the clash due to a deal between the nation and the French clubs.

Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny, inside-centre Jamie Roberts and scrumhalf Mike Phillips are all available and will be the danger men for the Dragons.

Looking towards their clash on Saturday, Bok forward coach Johann van Graan admitted that Wales are going to be a tough nut to crack.

The Welsh played exceptionally well against the All Blacks last weekend and only lost the game in the latter stages. Their defence is something the Boks will have to try and break through.

The Boks were also poor at the lineout and will need to shape up if they are to launch their attack from the set piece.

“Wales stop the maul well and are statistically the best defensive side in the world. They boast the highest tackle count and in the last game against us in Nelspruit, were really efficient in cutting us down by the legs,” Van Graan said.

South Africa were also disrupted at the break downs, which has been a concern in almost every match of the tour.

The likes of Welsh captain Sam Warburton will haunt the Boks if they do not show more urgency in that area.

The Boks take on Wales on ­Saturday in ­Cardiff. Kick-off is at 4.30 pm.

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