No sign of URC scar for Wales
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The recent struggles of the Welsh teams in the United Rugby Championship will have no impact on the Wales national side says assistant coach Stephen Jones.
The Welsh teams visited South Africa during the URC tournament and out of the eight games played all of them ended in defeats for the visitors.
In contrast, the South African franchises were incredible – the Stormers and the Bulls contesting the URC Final with the Capetonians coming out on top to win the inaugural title.
However, speaking to reporters, Jones quickly refuted the notion that the URC season is an indicator of Wales’ upcoming three-Test series against the Springboks.
“How we [Welsh teams] went in the URC has no psychological bearing on this series, none at all,” said Jones.
“The last six games between Wales and South Africa have been very close and the majority of our guys were here with the British and Irish Lions last year and that series was extremely close.
” They’ve experienced a lot of Test matches against South Africa, so our players are very excited about playing the Boks once more.”
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Play smart and effective
Wales head into this weekend’s Test against the Springboks as the underdog, given their recent shock 21-22 defeat to Italy in Cardiff during the Six Nations.
However, Jones, who played over 100 games at flyhalf for Wales, is confident his team can stun the Boks with some smart and effective rugby.
“We have a wonderful group of players and it has been a long time since our last game against Italy and we are chomping at the bit to get cracking in what will be an intense Test match before hopefully a sell-out crowd,” Jones said.
“We have a huge amount of respect for our opponents but we have our own way of playing and we look forward to playing smartly and effectively.
“We know it is going to be an aerial battle and very physical at the breakdown, so we have to be very clever in how we play – we need a balance to our game and we must play in the right areas of the park.
“South Africa has a very good defence system so we cannot be one-dimensional – we must have variety and options to what we do.”
Jones, who was on the field for the B&I Lions when they lost the vital second Test to the Boks in Pretoria in 2009, revealed Wales will be at full strength for this weekend’s Test at Loftus Versfeld.
Prop Tomas Francis recovered from a back injury and flyhalf Gareth Anscombe belatedly arrived in the country after the birth of his second child.