Springbok coach Peter de Villiers said his team is ready for whatever a charged-up Welsh side will throw at his charges in the first of two Tests in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
The new Bok coach expects an “in your face” approach from the Welsh Dragons, but is confident he will make a winning start to his Bok coaching career.
De Villiers, addressing the media as his team stepped up their preparations after moving base from Stellenbosch to Bloemfontein on Monday, said he expected Wales to come with a big effort in the scrums and also to kick more than they normally do.
“But we’ll be ready for whatever they throw at us,” he said, adding that he has a nucleus of very experienced players to help him through his first Test.
The Bok mentor said Warren Gatland’s selections for the Bloem showdown suggested the Welsh will be very confrontational.
“We can expect them to be in our faces and take us on up front,” De Villiers said, adding that: “They [the Welsh] will want to scrum us.”
He dismissed the notion that the Boks may underestimate the Welsh because a number of senior players have been ruled out through injury.
“No, we are not underestimating anybody. Some people may think that this Wales [team] is a weakened side, but I don’t thin so.
“The guys that are playing [for Wales] are very exciting players. They are the guys that will take Wales to the next World Cup [in New Zealand in 2011], and it is a building phase for them, just like it is for us.”
De Villiers admitted the selection of Stephen Jones at flyhalf ahead of James Hook suggests that Wales are planning an aerial bombardment on a Bok back three that is likely consist of Conrad Jantjes, Tonderai Chavhanga and Bryan Habana.
“We do expect a lot more kicking from them, chasing and putting pressure on our young guys and from there they will try to put us under pressure,” De Villiers said.
“We are also aware that they have chosen a flyhalf who kicks a lot, and who kicks well. They are going to take us on tactically, bringing in the big men to compete for the ball in the air against our smaller players.
“[Warren] Gatland is a very good coach, he knows exactly what he wants to throw at us. We are preparing for everything that will come at us and we’ll take it from there.
“We know about these things; we’ll just have to assert ourselves on the day.”
By Hannes Nienaber for www.rugby365.comTweet