Legendary Welsh scrumhalf Gareth Edwards, who was once chosen as the greatest rugby player in history, has praised Springbok scrumhalf Bolla Conradie for his performance against Wales last week.
“South Africa were on the front foot throughout and Conradie was brilliant in the way he kept the momentum going,” Edwards said in an interview with Die Burger on Tuesday.
“It will be a huge disappointment to him if he is dropped this week. He played really well,” the former British and Irish Lions star said.
Stephen Nell writes in Die Burger that conradie was controversially included in the Springbok team for the first Test after Ricky January had been omitted for disciplinary reasons.
However, the Stormers veteran was one of the best SA players in the 43-17 victory in Bloemfontein.
Edwards also praised the SA loose forwards for their role in the victory, saying they had created the perfect platform for Conradie whose decision-making was “brilliant”.
Edwards is a rugby ambassador for HSBC, the company whose name will appear on the jerseys of the British and Irish Lions when they tour South Africa next year.
The Welsh icon, who also starred in the mighty 1974 Lions team that beat South Africa 3-0, with one Test drawn, is disappointed with Wales’ performance last week.
‘They simply had no answers’
“And an even more difficult task awaits them in Pretoria,” Edwards said.
“They were never able to adapt to the pace of the game in Bloemfontein. They simply had no answers.
“One important factor was the Highveld altitude. I think the Welsh did the right thing to prepare in Pretoria for the second Test.
“But they will have to come up with new ideas and raise their game. The second Test will be a test of character.
“The defeat against the Springboks was the first Welsh loss in a long time. I think they can do better.”
Edwards, chosen as the greatest player of all time by a Rugby World panel of former internationals in 2003, does not regard this year’s tours by northern hemisphere teams as relevant to the selection of the 2009 Lions team.
“I think the team will be chosen mainly on form in next season’s Six Nations matches,” he said.
Ian McGeechan, who will coach the Lions, and the manager, Gerald Davies, are in South Africa at the moment and stayed in the same hotel as the Springboks last week.
“I was not surprised by Ian’s appointment,” Edwards said. “He has experience of Lions tours and deserves much praise for what he has achieved at London Wasps.
“Ian knows what it takes to undertake a successful Lions tour. He has the ability to unite a group of players into a solid squad in a short time.”
Edwards has other commitments at the moment and cannot be in South Africa to see the Welsh play but will “certainly” be here next year to watch the Lions.Tweet