Boks promise blitz on Wales

SPRINGBOK coach Jake White has warned Wales to prepare for a furious early onslaught on Saturday as the South Africans lay down a marker at the start of their grand slam tour.

“The first 20 minutes against Wales will be the most crucial if we are to become the first Springbok team in 43 years to pull off the grand slam,” White said just hours before the team’s departure. “That will determine how well the tour goes. We don’t want to struggle to get our phases and patterns going against Wales.”

White said his team had set themselves the target of winning the slam by beating Wales, Ireland, England and Scotland. It was last achieved by the Australians in 1984.

The Springboks play Wales at the Millennium Stadium and White said he had received confirmation that the roof would be left open unless both teams agreed that weather conditions were too bad.

Wales have only beaten South Africa once in 17 matches dating back to 1906. They won 29-19 in Cardiff five years ago, when fly-half Neil Jenkins kicked 19 points.

The South Africans’ confidence was reflected in their announcement of their line-up for the Wales match more than a week before the fixture.

White added: “Our defence will once again be our priority. We won’t change it, although it will be focused more around the loose mauls.

“Our rush defence won’t have as much impact because the attackers probably aren’t going to be able to get the ball wide very quickly in the conditions.”

Wales coach Mike Ruddock last night named a new-look team and put his faith in the Jones boys.

A record six Joneses will line up for Wales, including Neath-Swansea Ospreys number eight Ryan Jones, who makes his Test debut.

The Springboks other fixtures are against Ireland at Lansdowne Road (November 13), England at Twickenham (November 20) and Scotland at Murrayfield (November 27).

There is also a test scheduled in Argentina on the team’s return home.

WALES: G Thomas (Toulouse, capt); H Luscombe (Newport Gwent Dragons), S Parker (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), G Henson (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), S Williams (Neath-Swansea Ospreys); S Jones (Clermont Auvergne), D Peel (Llanelli Scarlets); D Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), S Jones (Newport-Gwent Dragons), A Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), B Cockbain (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), M Owen (Newport Gwent Dragons), D Jones (Llanelli Scarlets), C Charvis (Newcastle), R Jones (Neath-Swansea Ospreys).

Replacements: M Davies (Neath-Swansea Ospreys), G Jenkins (Cardiff Blues), L Charteris (Newport Gwent Dragons), M Williams (Cardiff Blues), G Cooper (Newport Gwent Dragons), C Sweeney (Newport Gwent Dragons), T Shanklin (Cardiff Blues).

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