Although many pundits in South Africa and Wales are expecting the Springboks to pick up a comfortable clean sweep in the incoming series kicking off in early July, Bok coach Jacques Nienaber is prepared for a tough three match series.
Wales head into the series languishing at ninth on the World Rugby standings, having had a tough couple of years and missing a few key players through injury.
Many have thus predicted a comfortable series for the Boks, with them expected to triumph in their opening two matches before giving their extended squad a run in the final match.
Nienaber, however, cautioned about the team getting ahead of themselves and is expecting a tight battle against the Welsh.
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“If you look at our history with Wales, in my mind, it’s going to be a tightly contested series. I think last year on the end of year tour was the first time that we have pulled off a victory in Wales in quite some time,” said Nienaber.
“Also if you look at our last couple of outings since I’ve been with the Boks in 2018, we lost in Washington, and then lost on the end of year tour. We won in the World Cup semifinals and it was a penalty that was the difference.
“If you look at last year’s game we only took control of the scoreboard after 70 minutes. So I think Wales will be a tough one, especially for us. They know how we play, we have a pretty good idea how they play and it’s always an arm wrestle.”
Poor Six Nations
Wales will also be looking to impress after a poor showing at this year’s Six Nations, where they finished second from bottom of the log and lost to Italy in their final game.
Nienaber however believes that the final standings were deceiving and that Wales were a lot better than most people thought.
“It was interesting for me when I did a proper analysis of Wales in the Six Nations. Everyone will remember the last match against Italy. But against the French who won the grand slam, they only lost against them 13-9 and pushed them all the way,” explained Nienaber.
“Against England at Twickenham there was only five points in it and they beat Scotland. So I am under no illusions that it is going to be a proper series.”
The Boks take on Wales at Loftus in Pretoria on July 2, at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on July 9 and at the Cape Town Stadium on July 16.