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By Athenkosi Tsotsi

Sports Reporter

‘If we don’t pitch up, Wales will punish us,’ says Boks’ Stick

"They don’t stop fighting, they have a massive work rate off the ball."

Assistant coach Mzwandile Stick is expecting a titanic clash when the Springboks take on Wales in a Rugby World Cup warm-up match on Saturday afternoon at the Principality Stadium.

The match is the Boks’ second last match before the global showpiece next month, where they kick off the defence of their title against Scotland on September 10.

As they have fielded a strong core for the match, Stick says the game will allow the Boks to continue their preparations and build momentum towards the World Cup in France.

‘Tough people’

“It’s going to be a tough game, but our focus is on improving how we play the game and to gain momentum towards the World Cup,” Stick told the media during Friday’s captain’s press conference.

“It’s always tough to play Wales, especially away from home. When they play at home at the Principality Stadium, it’s very tough, it’s their home ground. The manner in which they play the game … they’re very tough people. They don’t stop fighting, they have a massive work rate off the ball,” he said.

The Boks and Welsh have an identical style of play. They always match each other on the field, and their meetings are always decided by small margins. This weekend will be no different, according to Stick.

“Last year they came to South Africa and they gave us a good run, in the first game in Pretoria we had to win that match in the last seconds. So this is a team you can’t underestimate, the results they got against England show that with their coaching staff, they’re going in the right direction.

“The history between the two teams tells you it’s always a grind; you have to be at your best to win it. If you don’t pitch up, they will punish you,” he said.

Wales injuries

Wales will be without stars Dan Biggar, Liam Williams and Alex Cuthbert for the game against the world champions and Stick believes the trio’s absence is an opportunity for younger players to show they have what it takes to go to the World Cup.

“It’s a big loss from them to lose those experienced guys, but once again I think the youngsters that are coming through, will want to prove to their coaches that they have got what it takes to be at this level and go to the World Cup,” he said.

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