South Africa skipper says opponents Wales can step up to challenge

‘They never go away ... so it is all about who takes the opportunity when it comes along’

Wales v South Africa, Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Saturday, 5.30pm – Live on Amazon Prime

South Africa skipper Siya Kolisi has described Wales as a team that "never go away" ahead of Saturday's clash at the Principality Stadium.

The Springboks knocked Wales out of the 2015 and 2019 World Cup tournaments, but South Africa’s recent record in Cardiff is poor by their standards.

They have lost four successive Tests in the Welsh capital since claiming a 24-15 victory eight years ago.

Kolisi was on the bench that day, while only two members of the starting line-up – lock Eben Etzebeth and number eight Duane Vermuelen – feature this time around.

Reflecting on the run of losses, Kolisi said: “There were a couple of things we spoke about and we do know what went wrong. They outsmarted us. We have really looked at our past games, we think we have researched a whole lot more this week.

“We have looked at what went wrong and we’ve worked as hard as we can to give ourselves a fair chance on the weekend.

“There are a lot of different things with Wales when you play against them.

“Some [teams] will match you physically, then go away, but Wales are hard for the full 80 minutes. You know you are going to be in it for the full 80 minutes.

“They always step up to the challenge – you saw it in the [2019] World Cup semi-final – and it’s exactly the same thing when you play them here.

“They never go away and are very smart. They play a similar type of game to us, so it is all about who loses concentration or who takes the opportunity when it comes.

“Every time we play them, we know physically we have to be up there for a full 80 minutes. You can’t have a soft moment.

“They are a hard team, a strong team, so it’s about who can maintain the intensity for the full 80 minutes.”

One Wales player that Kolisi will not be up against this weekend is Alun Wyn Jones, who faces surgery on a shoulder injury and a lengthy spell out of rugby.

They were opposing captains when the Springboks claimed a 2-1 Test series triumph against the British and Irish Lions this summer.

“He is a very experienced guy who has achieved so many great things and is a great leader,” Kolisi added.

“But I do believe there will be others who will step up. Even though he’s not there, I believe he will still be there, have a big impact and will talk to the guys.

“At this level, it is a big thing to lose a player like that, but it’s always an opportunity for someone else to step up.”

WALES: Johnny McNicholl; Louis Rees-Zammit, Jonathan Davies, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar, Tomos Williams; Rhys Carre, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis; Will Rowlands, Adam Beard; Ellis Jenkins, Taine Basham, Aaron Wainwright.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Wyn Jones, WillGriff John, Ben Carter, Seb Davies, Gareth Davies, Gareth Anscombe, Liam Williams.

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

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

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