Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says Wales have good X-factor players. Photo: BackpagePix

It’s often the last match of the year, and it’s the coldest week of the four-match tour of Europe for the Springboks.

But when the South Africans run out against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, expect a “great show”.

That was the word from Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick on Tuesday as the South Africans look to stretch their winning streak to three at the Principality Stadium.

And while you may think it’s just all talk from Stick – he’s not exactly going to say that the Boks can’t wait to go home to hot summer weather – there are more than enough reasons for the team to really give it a good shot against Warren Gatland’s side.

First up is the fact that World Cup places are up for grabs, so if coach Rassie Erasmus makes a few changes, and even those coming off the bench, the new players will be keen to catch the eye.

We saw the impact Embrose Papier made at scrumhalf in the 26-20 win over Scotland at the weekend, while outside backs such as Ruhan Nel, Sergeal Petersen and Gio Aplon will hope to get a chance against Wales too.

Damian Willemse is another one due a look-in after his solid first start at fullback against England.

“It’s a great opportunity for the youngsters also. You saw Embrose Papier when he started against Scotland – for his age, I think he had a very, very good game,” Stick said on Tuesday.

“He controlled it very well. We saw his X-factor when he gets an opportunity, and I think Ivan van Zyl also had a great game against England.

“So, once again, going towards the World Cup, you really want to give those youngsters opportunities, to make sure you give them a bit of experience.

“It’s going to be a great show. One thing for sure I can promise you: It’s going to be a good one, a tough one. Looking at the past three games, where we lost by two points, it’s going to be a tough one.

“Both teams are in a good space, if you look at how Wales have been getting better as a team. Also us, where we started and where we are currently.”

Another major motivational factor is that Wales have won the last three Tests against the Boks, and with the upward trajectory over the last few weeks, Erasmus wouldn’t want his team to lose momentum.

He has also stated that the Welsh are the strongest team the Boks will face on tour, as they have beaten Scotland and Australia.

“They have a number of good performances and wins behind them during this month, so we know it’s going to be very tough. Wales have a well-balanced team – there are good on attack, strong on defence and also have an impressive kicking game. However, we want to finish the tour on a positive note, so we will give it our best effort,” Stick said.

“I have to be honest and give credit to our players, because they adapted very well to the conditions in Europe. Whether it’s raining or dry, we are well prepared for any conditions on Saturday.

“Wales are a top side, have good X-factor players, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”

@ashfakmohamed


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