Wales great Gareth Edwards says coach Jacques Nienaber has disrespected the touring Dragons by fielding a heavily changed Springbok lineup for the second Test of the series in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Nienaber overhauled almost the entire Bok starting lineup for the second Test against Wales in Bloemfontein on Saturday, naming two uncapped players in the starting XV and a further four among the replacements.
The world champions can clinch the three-Test series against Wales with victory at Free State Stadium after rallying to claim a 32-29 win in Pretoria last week.
Only lock Eben Etzebeth, set to win his 99th Test cap, has kept his place in the run-on team from the first Test, something which has infuriated Edwards, the iconic Wales halfback.
“If there had been five or six changes, you would maybe have raised an eyebrow. But 14 changes? It’s overwhelming,” the British & Irish Lions great told BBC Sport. “I don’t think it shows respect for Wales and, looking logically, there is only one way to view it and that’s to give them a good tonking, as they say.
“I suppose the only way they [South Africa] can justify it is if they win. I think it shows a little bit of disrespect.
“It doesn’t matter that it’s Wales. In these days, everyone is building towards World Cups so they have a different outlook. Yes, make changes but not that many. I’m a bit disappointed because I was looking forward to seeing Wales take on these guys again.”
Wales finished fifth in the Six Nations this year and were expected to be comprehensively beaten in the first of three Tests last weekend. However, the visitors rattled the Boks and took a surprise 15-point lead into the break.
While Nienaber rubbished suggestions that the matchday 23 was a second-string team, Edwards says the number of changes devalues the second Test.
“I think it does [devalue it], to an extent. There is a lot at stake but I think it takes a bit of an edge out of it,” said Edwards.
“I am not going to suggest for one minute that I know all that is right and wrong about the modern game, except that it is a pretty physically demanding set-up, and it is important that you do [make changes] but there are ways and means of changing. I think it has stunned a lot of people.
“Take it from me, any side I’ve played against in a green-and-gold jersey, you are going to have to give respect to. It’s not going to be easy, far from it, second team or not. They’ll be a tough, tough side.
“I think it is great motivation for Wales. First and foremost, beat them. I think they [Wales players] are probably talking to each other and saying ‘Right boys, that’s what they think of us’.
“It is a great opportunity to beat them and say ‘Thank you very much for picking that team’.”
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