Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
6 Nov 2021
3:29 pm

World rankings mean nothing in Cardiff — Bok assistant Stick

Ross Roche

The last time the South African team won against Wales in Cardiff was 2013.

Damian Willemse will get a chance to show what he can do at fullback when the Springboks face Wales in Cardiff on Saturday. Picture: Steve Haag/Gallo Images

Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick believes that they have picked the best possible Springbok side while also giving some fringe players a run for the first end-of-year UK tour clash against Wales at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday evening.

The team are taking the match extremely seriously and will not be underestimating Wales despite their low placing on the world rugby rankings.

“We have selected the best possible team to play Wales, you can’t underestimate them because of their position in the world rankings,” explained Stick. “That doesn’t mean a lot to us because if you look at the record over the past six to seven years the last time we beat them in Wales was in 2013.”

“So we can’t underestimate them.”

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One of the players who many pundits believe should have been given a run out against Wales is exciting fullback Aphelele Fassi, however Damian Willemse has been given the nod ahead of him, with Stick admitting it was time for him to get his shot.

“Regarding Fassi we know that he is a very talented player with a good x-factor. He is training well, he is positive and he brings energy to the training field,” said Stick.

“But people tend to forget that Damian Willemse has been with us and waiting for his opportunity since 2018. As a 20-year old be played in front of a full Twickenham at fullback and he has been waiting for his chance.

“I don’t doubt that Fassi will play a lot of Test matches in the future, but right now I think it’s fair for us as coaches to give a guy like Damian a chance as he has been waiting for this opportunity.”

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Despite the fact that the Springboks are the current world champions and are ranked second on the world rugby rankings, Stick believes that Wales head into the match as slight favourites.

“In the past six years we haven’t beaten them here, so they will probably go into the game as favourites playing in front of their home crowd,” admitted Stick.

“I think for us that’s a big challenge that we are going to have to step up from. It is tough to play here in Wales and conditions also play a big part in the game.”