A 3-0 series win over Wales is crucial for the Springboks in terms of the rest of their 2022 Test season and preparation for the 2023 World Cup, DYLAN JACK writes.
The world champions host the All Blacks in two home Tests to open their Rugby Championship campaign. Five consecutive home Test wins would open a window of opportunity to experiment with the gameplan and team structure in the away matches against the Wallabies and Pumas.
It is unlikely that the Springboks will employ the same sort of experimentation on the November tour of Europe, which includes a first visit to Ireland since a humiliating loss in 2017, and a Test against 2023 World Cup hosts and Six Nations champions France.
‘We’ve got a tough schedule this year, which is what you want a year before the World Cup, facing some big opponents and playing all the top teams in the world,’ said Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber.
The Boks were able to tick some pretty big boxes last year. A series win over the British & Irish Lions was followed by a win over the All Blacks in Australia, as well as ending an eight-year drought against Wales in Cardiff. However, in 2022 the world champions will lay the platform for their title defence next year, and it all starts with the series against Wales.
While the Springboks are now on a two-match winning streak against Wales, they had lost the previous four meetings.
Matches between the two sides are rarely one-sided. Since 2010, only three times has a game been won by more than seven points. Wales will also be looking to restore some pride after a poor Six Nations campaign with them winning just one of five matches, including a shock defeat by Italy in Cardiff.
“On our UK tour last year, it was the first time in eight years we beat them at home. We only took control in the last 10 minutes. History has shown us that it is going to be an arm wrestle,” Nienaber said.
“Wales are one of those teams that don’t go away and keep putting you under pressure. To zone in to two of Wales’ Six Nations games – they were 12-0 down against England at Twickenham and they went on to score three tries in the last 20 minutes.
“Against France, who won the Grand Slam and are one of the in-form teams in the world, they were 10-9 behind at half time, and France went on to win 13-9. That impressive France side could only score three points in the second half.
“To me, that amplifies the spirit of this Welsh team. They are a tough team and it will be a grind. We must make sure we get our ducks in a row.”
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