Time for Springboks to build something new against Wales, says Mzwandile Stick

Wing Edwill van der Merwe will be one of the Springbok debutants against Wales. Photo: BackpagePix

Wing Edwill van der Merwe will be one of the Springbok debutants against Wales. Photo: BackpagePix

Published Jun 21, 2024


It was a bit unusual for the Springboks to wrap up their preparation for an overseas Test match on home soil this past week.

But they are confident it won’t affect their readiness for tomorrow’s season opener at Twickenham against Wales (3pm SA time start).

The London duel with the Red Dragons will see the 2019 World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus return as Bok mentor, with four debutants looking to make their mark as the world champions kick-start their roadmap to the 2027 Rugby World Cup.

The Boks arrived in London yesterday and gave the travelling group the day off, with the captain’s run set for today.

There is a quiet confidence in the camp, although all the pressure will be on them as world champions to get that first victory against the Welsh.

It could set the tone for the rest of their mid-year matches, especially the double Tests against Ireland next month in Pretoria and Durban.

“We did all the preparation we had to do back in South Africa, and we arrived in the UK this morning (yesterday) and will have a full day off, as we usually do in a Test week,” assistant coach Mzwandile Stick explained on the Springbok website.

“With the team travelling overnight, the guys could sleep well, and the bonus for us is that there is only a one-hour time difference, which means we can stick to our routine going into Saturday’s game.

“The players will relax a little and then we have our captains run tomorrow (today), and hopefully things go well on Saturday.

“It’s back to reality being in London. What we achieved last year is history, and now it’s time to build something new.”

What he is of course referring to is the Boks’ dismantling of the All Blacks ahead of the 2023 World Cup at Twickenham.

In a master-class of rugby, the Springboks inflicted the heaviest-ever defeat on New Zealand, running rampant with a 35-7 win.

— Springboks (@Springboks) June 19, 2024

It was a victory that reverberated throughout the world of rugby, and some exciting young players such as Canan Moodie and Kurt-Lee Arendse played a big role in it, and tomorrow things will more or less look the same, with a blend of debutants mixed with World Cup winners that will look to trump a young Welsh side.

Wing Edwill van der Merwe and flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse will be in the thick of things in the starting backline, while Stormers stars Ben-Jason Dixon and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu could make their first appearance off the replacements bench.

While there are exciting players at the back, the platform will be laid by an experienced pack of forwards, captained by the “Malmesbury Missile” Pieter-Steph du Toit.

The loose forward, alongside fellow back-rowers Kwagga Smith and No 8 Evan Roos, will be crucial to South Africa’s physical game, while the front row will do well to lay a marker in the scrums and line-outs tomorrow.

“There are a few youngsters in our team that will get an opportunity alongside some of the more experienced players, so it’s going to be an exciting game,” Stick said.

“Wales will also be eager to play against the world champions, so we know it’s going to be a tough game, and that’s exactly what we need to kick-start the season.”

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