Wales stars to front Boks

Wales will have the benefit of fielding their French-based superstars against the Springboks this Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI in Cardiff.

The game between Wales and South Africa this Saturday falls outside of World Rugby's international window. Clubs in England, France and Japan are thus not obliged to release their Test players for international duty.

It’s for this reason that the Boks will be without players of the quality of Bryan Habana, JP Pietersen, Schalk Burger, as well as several others at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales won’t suffer such significant losses. The Wales Rugby Union currently has a deal with the French clubs, and have already secured the release of some big-name players for the clash against the Boks.

Fullback Leigh Halfpenny (Toulon), centre Jamie Roberts (Racing Métro), and scrumhalf Mike Phillips (Racing Métro) will all be available for Saturday’s Test. The presence of these three players, who have all represented the British & Irish Lions, will make the Boks’ task that much more difficult.

That said, the WRU doesn’t have the same deal with the English clubs, and so have had to release prop Paul James (Bath) and hooker Richard Hibbard (Gloucester). Their backline may be close to full strength, but their pack will be depleted.

Several more players are in doubt following the recent Test against the All Blacks. Scrumhalf Rhys Webb and veteran prop Gethin Jenkins will need to prove their fitness this week.

George North took a knock to the head this past Saturday, but at this stage his eligibility for selection is unclear. North plays his club rugby for English side Northampton.

Photo: Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

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Jon Cardinelli