PRETORIA – The Springboks have made no secret of their desperation to win their final Test of their European tour and finish the year with a respectable 50 percent win record from 14 matches.
Over and above bringing some credibility and dignity back to the jersey, the Springboks will be looking at breaking their three-Test losing streak against Wales in Cardiff.
And in order to do so, Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus has stuck to the winning side that beat Scotland last weekend, with the inclusion of lock Eben Etzebeth being the only change on the bench in place of Lood de Jager.
Erasmus is under no illusions as to what awaits his team at the Principality Stadium tomorrow, with the home side having racked up an impressive eight-match winning run so far.
The Springboks, on the other hand, have been able to finally get some consistency into their game after beating France and Scotland in consecutive weeks. This equalled their two-match winning streak from earlier in the year against England in South Africa, and their back-to-back wins against the All Blacks in Wellington and Australia in Port Elizabeth in the Rugby Championship.
“We will be desperate to win and to end the tour on a high would be fantastic for the experience and growth of this squad,” said Erasmus. “Wales have a formidable squad and their current run of eight unbeaten Tests is proof and also an indication of their good form at the moment.”
Erasmus would have also considered the importance of tomorrow’s encounter in not changing his side as it is undoubtedly the toughest of their four-match schedule in Europe.
The Springboks have surely shown some growth as a side in the past three weeks with plenty of individuals finally coming of age in international rugby.
And while the South Africans stumbled in the first outing of the tour - although it was under controversial circumstances in their one-point defeat against England at Twickenham - it will be in beating Wales that the Springboks will look to affirm themselves and the progress they have really made in the past few months to add to that famous win against the world champions in New Zealand.
To add fuel to the fire, Erasmus will be just as desperate to get one over Warren Gatland and Wales after tasting defeat in his first Test at the helm of the Springboks in June in that one-off, watered down Test in Washington DC.
“As I’ve said before, we know Saturday’s Test is going to be our most difficult match of the tour,” Erasmus said.
“Wales defeated us in Washington in June and have now won the last three games against us. They are a well-balanced and strong side with a great home record, so our boys will be in for a massive contest on Saturday.”@Vata_Ngobeni