Springboks make back-line changes against Wales

·3-min read
Wales start: South Africa scrum-half Herschel Jantjies (AFP/Patrick HAMILTON)

South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has made three changes to his back division for Saturday's match against Wales in Cardiff from the side that edged out New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.

Damian Willemse is at full-back instead of Willie le Roux in what the Springboks said was a "rotational switch", with Herschel Jantjies making his third Test start in place of injured scrum-half Faf de Klerk for the opening match of their tour of Britain.

Jesse Kriel starts on the right wing where he replaces Sbu Nkosi, who is yet to travel to the UK as he awaits the necessary paperwork, in the final change to the side that beat the All Blacks 31-29 earlier this month.

Jantjies' promotion to the starting line-up sees Cobus Reinach drafted onto the bench in the only change among the replacements.

"We selected this squad with an eye on maintaining consistency in selection from the Rugby Championship, but at the same time giving players who have been knocking on the door for a while now an opportunity to play," said Nienaber in a SA Rugby statement after announcing his side on Tuesday.

"Damian and Herschel have featured off the bench a fair bit and this is a fantastic opportunity to give them a chance to start as we look to build our squad depth with an eye on the 2023 Rugby World Cup.

"Jesse has also been training hard. He is very experienced and he brings the physicality that will be necessary against Wales," added Nienaber.

Six Nations champions Wales, who are due to announce their team on Thursday, were thrashed 54-16 by New Zealand in Cardiff.

But they were under-strength due to injuries and the fact that several senior players were unavailable due to the match taking place outside the Test window.

Although the Springboks edged out Wales 19-16 in the semi-finals of the World Cup, they have not won in Cardiff since 2013 and Nienaber expects another gruelling encounter this weekend.

"Wales are a tough side to beat and our track record over here in the last few years is evidence of that," he said.

"They may have lost against the All Blacks last week but this result was in the absence of a number of key players, so this week will be a completely different proposition."

Following Saturday's match, South Africa play Scotland in Edinburgh the following before concluding their tour against England at Twickenham on November 20 -- the first time they have played Eddie Jones' men since their 32-21 victory in the World Cup final in Yokohama.

South Africa (15-1)

Damian Willemse; Jesse Kriel, Lukhanyo Am, Damian de Allende, Makazole Mapimpi; Handre Pollard, Herschel Jantjies; Duane Vermeulen, Kwagga Smith, Siya Kolisi (capt); Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth; Trevor Nyakane, Bongi Mbonambi, Ox Nche

Replacements: Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, Vincent Koch, Franco Mostert, Jasper Wiese, Cobus Reinach, Elton Jantjies, Frans Steyn

Coach: Jacques Nienaber (RSA)

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