herald

Sunday 23 September 2018

Wales and Boks a 'gladiatorial' Test

SHAUN EDWARDS is braced for a "gladiatorial" Test match when Wales open their autumn international series against South Africa on Saturday.

It will be the countries' first meeting since a gripping 2011 World Cup pool game in Wellington that South Africa edged 17-16.

Wales subsequently went on to reach the World Cup semi-finals and land successive Six Nations titles, but they have only beaten the Springboks once in 26 meetings stretching back 107 years.

Coach Warren Gatland is set to name his team today, with injured backs Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts probably being replaced by Scarlets pair Liam Williams and Scott Williams, respectively.

Elsewhere, Rhys Priestland also looks poised for a return at fly-half following his Achilles tendon injury last term, while Cardiff Blues forward Bradley Davies could partner Alun-Wyn Jones at lock.

"If you like your rugby as gladiatorial, then get a ticket for Saturday because this will be no place for the faint-hearted," Wales defence specialist Edwards said.

"We have to muscle up against these boys. We practise our tackling a lot, but we certainly have been concentrating on that this week.

"South Africa are also a skilful team as well and they are not just based on power, which they proved by scoring four tries against the All Blacks last time they played. They play with a lot of width as well, so they have a lot of options.

"Probably the best team I have ever coached against was the South African team of 2009, although there have been some great New Zealand sides. That South African team beat New Zealand three times in the same season.

"This is the best Springboks team since then, and (coach) Heyneke Meyer has done a great job. We know what we are going up against."

Recounting the World Cup clash two years ago, Edwards added: "I watched it the other day. It just shows the small margins at elite level sport.

"But I would have been a lot more worried if we had lost that match by 30 points than just losing by one.

"We have had some close calls with South Africa over the years and there has only been a few lapses of concentration that have stopped us winning."

 

LEGUIZAMON: NO RIFT IN ARGENTINA CAMP

Argentina captain Juan Manuel Leguizamon insists the Pumas will enter Saturday's international against England with a united squad.

Leguizamon denies there is a rift in the camp that resulted in the resignation of coach Santiago Phelan, who objected to information being leaked to the media. Daniel Hourcade has been appointed as his successor.

Argentina finished bottom of the Rugby Championship and have lost star players Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe and Juan Martin Hernandez to the treatment room, but Leguizamon (left) has promised they will be ready for their Twickenham appointment.

"The team is very tight and our objectives are clear. People are talking about that, but we don't care," he said.

"Sometimes you have new coaches and you have to adapt yourself to the situation.

"We are all professional players and we must adapt ourselves as quickly as possible to the new system.

"There aren't many changes, so that makes things easier for the team."

Leguizamon has been skipper for the tour of Europe in the absence of Lobbe, who has been ruled out of all three games with an elbow problem.

"I'm very proud. It's a big thing for me to be captain for this tour," he said.

"Being captain of my country is something very big, but now we are focused on the job we have to do.

"We are playing one of the best teams in the world. We have to be ready for that."

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