South African Rugby

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

The Welsh make 10 changes for the SA game.

Dafydd James will win his first Wales cap in 3 years on Saturday after coach Mike Ruddock announced sweeping changes for the clash with South Africa.

James, a 2001 Lion who last appeared for Wales under Steve Hansen in the 2002 defeat to New Zealand, impressed Ruddock after being called into the squad as injury cover.

James, who faces the prospect of trying to keep tabs on South Africa's electric winger Bryan Habana if he can keep up , is amongst 10 changes that Ruddock has made to the first-choice Wales side that was beaten by the All Blacks two weeks ago.

Two of those changes are injury-enforced with James replacing Kevin Morgan and Luke Charteris starting in place of lock Brent Cockbain.

But otherwise Ruddock has performed radical surgery on the side that was beaten 41-3 by the All Blacks. Wales went to grasp a last-minute 11-10 win over Fiji last week.

Lee Byrne starts at fullback with Gareth Thomas moving to outside centre instead of Mark Taylor.

Thomas is partnered in midfield by Sonny Parker, who comes in for Ceri Sweeney, while Lions tourist Gareth Cooper takes over from Mike Phillips at scrumhalf.

Recovered from ankle problem

In the pack, Worcester prop Chris Horsman has recovered from an ankle problem to start ahead of Adam Jones and hooker Rhys Thomas has ousted Mefin Davies what a name , while Lions flanker Martyn Williams returns with Jonathan Thomas slipping to the bench and Colin Charvis moving to the blind-side.

"Our rationale has been to go for a team that has the potential to play the exciting brand of rugby that we associate with the Welsh team and a team that can adopt a strong defensive attitude when the Springboks have the ball," said Ruddock.

"We may have lost a few players to injuries but we believe we have an exceptionally strong team here with a good mix of experienced players and some great young prospects."

Stephen Jones, 28, will become just the 16th Welsh player to win 50 caps when he enters cardiff, while South African captain John Smit will also reach his half-century of appearances for the Springboks.

In announcing his side, Springbok coach Jake White handed a debut at outside-half to 20-year-old Meyer Bosman, who has been likened to Henry Honnibal because of his 6ft 3in, 15st frame yeah right.

Bosman, replacing Andre Pretorius who sustained an ankle injury two weeks ago against the Pumas in Buenos Aires, will be partnered by fellow rookie and Free State team-mate Michael Claassens at scrumhalf.

New halfback combination

Claassens will earn his first start in his fourth Test at Cardiff.

"We've got two flyhalves out and two scrumhalves out, so we've got a new halfback combination which is untested," White said.

"But it's an opportunity for players to put their hands up, so we hope this tour will bring out one or two youngsters and help us prepare for the 2007 World Cup."

White said he was taking nothing for granted despite Wales' performance against New Zealand and Fiji.

"We won't read too much into the Fijian game and we all know that if you get it wrong against the All Blacks and they turn it on they can whack you."

Teams (15-1):

Wales: Lee Byrne (Llanelli ); Dafydd James (Llanelli ), Sonny Parker (Ospreys), Gareth Thomas (Toulouse/FRA, capt), Shane Williams (Ospreys); Stephen Jones (Clermont Auvergne/FRA), Gareth Cooper (Newport-Gwent); Michael Owen (Newport-Gwent), Martyn Williams (Cardiff), Colin Charvis (Newcastle/ENG); Robert Sidoli (Cardiff), Luke Charteris (Newport-Gwent); Duncan Jones (Ospreys), Rhys Thomas (Cardiff), Chris Horsman (Worcester/ENG)

Replacements: Mefin Davies (Gloucester/ENG), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Ian Gough (Newport-Gwent), Jonathon Thomas (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Cardiff), Ceri Sweeney (Newport-Gwent), Matthew Watkins (Llanelli)

South Africa: Percy Montgomery; Conrad Jantjes, Jaque Fourie, Jean de Villiers, Bryan Habana; Meyer Bosman, Michael Claassens; Jacques Cronje, Juan Smith, Schalk Burger; Bakkies Botha, Victor Matfield; Lawrence Sephaka, John Smit (capt), CJ van der Linde

Replacements: Hanyani Shimange, Os du Randt, Albert van den Berg, Danie Rossouw, Bolla Conradie, De Wet Barry, Brent Russell.

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