Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick says the Springboks will select their best available match 23 for Saturday’s Test against Wales in Cardiff.
After losing their tour opener to England, the Boks have recorded wins against France and Scotland, and are eager to finish their tour on a high in Cardiff.
Stick said that while the Boks had built squad depth by giving players opportunities against Wales and England in June and during the Rugby Championship, the plan had always been to field their strongest lineup on the end-of-year tour.
‘The only reason our best team didn’t play against England is that [overseas-based players] Willie [le Roux] and Faf [de Klerk] weren’t available because the match fell outside of the international window,’ Stick said at Tuesday’s press conference. ‘Currently, we will take any opportunity to select our best team and I’m sure we will do so this weekend.’
However, the Boks will once again be without De Klerk, who was released back to Sale after the match against France in which he started at scrumhalf.
‘That’s an argument between Rassie Erasmus and the club,’ said Stick. ‘We knew when we came on tour that Faf would only play one or two games.
‘With Faf being absent, it’s a great opportunity for the youngsters. Embrose Papier had a very good game against Scotland [in his first Test start] and controlled the game very well. Ivan van Zyl also had a great game against England. You want to give these youngsters the opportunity to get some experience ahead of the World Cup.’
The Boks have lost three of their last four Tests against Wales, including their last three meetings in Cardiff and the clash in Washington DC in June. All of those were scrappy affairs, but Stick expects a more entertaining match on Saturday.
‘It’s going to be a good game. Both teams are in a good space and have been getting better [as the year has progressed]. I have to give credit to our players, who have adapted very well to European conditions.
‘But it’s going to be a tough one. Wales are a good side with X-factor players.’
Stick said he didn’t expect Wales to change the way they play in the absence of star fullback Leigh Halfpenny, who has been ruled out with concussion. Liam Williams, who scored two tries against Tonga on the wing last weekend, could start at fullback for the hosts, with Gareth Anscombe and Hallam Amos, who has been added to the squad, also in contention.
‘They’ve been playing the same type of rugby for the past year. When we played against them in Washington [in June] we knew what was coming. They have a good balance with their kicking and running game. They’ve got quality players at fullback and Williams is one of them. They will provide us with a big challenge even without Halfpenny.’