What the Welsh newspapers are saying on Thursday about the Test against the Springboks.
The Wales and Bok teams will be announced later on Thursday. As reported earlier in the week, star No 8 Taulupe Faletau looks set to start for the hosts. Prop Scott Andrews will also front the Boks.
The Western Mail has led with the story about the tighthead starting on its back page. ‘Wales call for Andrews as front-row crisis deepens’ reads the headline.
Perhaps the Boks can exploit the Dragons at the scrum on Saturday. They certainly produced the goods against Italy.
The same paper has run a lengthy piece looking at the reasons for staging a fourth Test in November, and ultimately outside of the Test window.
As the headline confirms, there are 2.5 million reasons for the fixture, a reference to the £2.5-million the Welsh Rugby Union will make in revenue. Over 65,000 tickets have already been sold for the clash at the Millennium Stadium.
Writer Simon Thomas suggests that the players will battle to maintain their levels of physicality and intensity for the fourth weekend in succession.
‘Having three Tests back to back is demanding enough, but to have four – including all three southern superpowers – is just murderous,’ Thomas says. ‘One dreads to think what state some players will be in come the end of Saturday’s encounter with the bruising Springboks.’
The Boks, of course, are in a tougher position. The southern-hemisphere season started in earnest back in February. The game in Cardiff will mark the Boks’ 13th Test of the year.
A short piece in the South Wales Echo is titled: ‘Faletau “Always Playing for Wales”’. According to Bath coach Todd Blackadder, the Wales No 8 was always going to play for the national side in this fixture – which is scheduled outside the Test window. The piece suggests that Faletau signed for Bath in 2016 ‘on the proviso he would be released for all of Wales’ Test matches’.
However, it looks likely that an independent panel will be appointed to determine whether Bath should cop a heavy fine or not. The paper says that Bath could also be docked points for transgressing Premiership Rugby rules.
‘It’s a real grey area, but it’s something that we knew all about,’ Blackadder admitted.
Compiled by Jon Cardinelli in Cardiff