Welsh great blasts Boks for being 'disrespectful' to Wales
REACTION: Gareth Edwards believes Wales has been ‘disrespected’ by the World Cup champion Springboks, because of the team South Africa named for the second Test.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber has made 14 changes from the line-up that edged past Wales 32-29 in a thrilling series opener decided by Damian Willemse’s penalty with the game’s final kick.
He has named two uncapped players in the starting XV – wing Kurt-Lee Arendse and No.8 Evan Roos – and four more among the replacements.
Only lock Eben Etzebeth remains from last week’s first Test in Pretoria, with Nienaber stating that he “needed to strike a balance between giving our talented young players an opportunity to show what they can do at international level and winning”.
Nienaber’s line-up contains a total of 393 caps, but 321 of those Test appearances are shared by just five players – Etzebeth, flyhalf Handre Pollard, centre Jesse Kriel, prop Trevor Nyakane and flank Pieter-Steph du Toit.
Such an approach by the Springboks has cut little ice with Wales great Edwards, who also feels the clash in Bloemfontein on Saturday has been partly devalued.
“The big disappointment for me was to learn South Africa are going to change virtually their whole team,” Edwards said.
“They have got every right to prepare for the World Cup, but I would really like to know what their logic is in changing so many.
“I suppose the only way they can justify it is if they win.
“I think it shows a little bit of disrespect.
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“If there had been five or six changes, you would maybe have raised an eyebrow. But 14 changes, it’s overwhelming.
“I don’t think it shows respect for Wales and, looking logically, there is only one way [for Wales] to view it and that is to give them a good ‘tonking’, as they say.
“It is a great opportunity to beat them and say: ‘Thank you very much for picking that team’.
“I’m 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.
“It has stunned a lot of people.
“They [the Wales players] are probably talking to each other and saying: ‘Right boys, that’s what they think of us’.
“It’s great motivation for Wales. It [South Africa’s team selection] does to an extent [devalues the game]. There is a lot at stake, but it takes a bit of an edge out of it. That is not Wales’ fault.”
Wales have never defeated the Springboks in South Africa but after going desperately close at Loftus Versfeld last weekend, they will line up in Bloemfontein with a serious chance of making history.
“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 is not going to be easy, far from it, second-team or not. My warning is don’t treat it lightly – treat it like it is the same [Springboks] team,” added Edwards.
Source: PA & RugbyPass