Springboks ‘won’t fall into Wales’ trap’ and underestimate their opponents, says Mzwandile Stick

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick checking players during a warm up

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the Springboks are still expecting a tough outing against Wales, despite the loss of top players ahead of the clash. Photo: Phando Jikelo/African News Agency(ANA)

Published Aug 19, 2023


Wales have lost three key backline players to late injuries ahead of today’s match against the Springboks in Cardiff, with wing Alex Cuthbert, flyhalf Dan Biggar and fullback Liam Williams pulling out on the eve of the game.

All three have played for the British & Irish Lions, and Bok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick acknowledged that it is a blow for the home team, who will now field an inexperienced back division that has won just 39 caps in total – with 17 of those belonging to scrumhalf Kieran Hardy.

“It has to be a blow when you lose a big chunk of experience like that,” Stick said from Cardiff yesterday.

“But we must be careful not to fall into the trap of underestimating the replacements.

“The young guys coming in have been picked for their World Cup squad because they are up-and-coming, and have plenty of talent.

“We have our Canan Moodies and Kurt-Lee Arendses, and so do they. There is no way the guys coming in are short of talent … it does not work like that at this level,” Stick explained.

“When you play Wales at the Principality Stadium in front of 80 000 fans, it doesn’t matter who is wearing their jerseys – you are in for a tough match.

“If we are not correctly focused, they will punish us, as they did England a fortnight ago on the same pitch.

“In the series last year in South Africa, they gave us a good run for our money – we lost one, and almost lost in Pretoria. Now Wales are moving further in the right direction under the new coaching staff (with Warren Gatland back).”

Stick said the coaching staff are proud to have captain Siya Kolisi back to lead the Boks.

“It has been a tough couple of months for Siya, and I must compliment him for how he has handled his recovery.

“People do not know how much he has sacrificed – he has been travelling between Cape Town and Durban for rehab, and has missed seeing his children for long periods.

“In a few years, Siya will tell the story of his recovery against the odds, and it will be a massive story.”