A sellout Loftus Versfeld crowd greets what will feel like a rebirth of international rugby in South Africa, as Wales begin their three-Test tour in Pretoria on Saturday.
The Springboks have barely played in front of a soul on home soil since lifting the World Cup trophy in Japan back in 2019.
Two years of Covid-19 pandemic carnage followed, leaving the global kings desperate to finally capitalize in full on the magical moment when captain Siya Kolisi led his side to glory against England in Tokyo.
Jacques Nienaber’s men will be boosted, at least, by the muscle memory of their success over the British & Irish Lions in an ill-tempered series played out in empty arenas a year ago.
The core of the victorious green and gold squad survives to take on the Welsh, who have largely struggled on the international circuit in recent years.
Skipper Kolisi is joined in the pack by fellow old stager Eben Etzebeth, while a front row led by Frans Malherbe is strong enough to leave Malcolm Marx, Vincent Koch and United Rugby Championship-winning Stormers captain Steven Kitshoff among the replacements.
Damian Willemse was also a key part of his franchise’s final success in Cape Town and he earns a start at full-back in place of Willie le Roux.
George North plays for the first time in a Welsh shirt since the 2021 Six Nations, having been given the 13 jersey by coach Wayne Pivac.
Lions wings Josh Adams and Louis Rees-Zammit are among those returning to South African soil for the visitors.
And there’s a wealth of experience sitting on the bench, too, with the legendary Alun Wyn Jones among the replacements for the first test of three.
South Africa Starting XV: 15 Damian Willemse, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am, 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Franco Mostert, 6 Siyamthanda Kolisi (captain), 5 Lodewyk de Jager, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Mbongeni Mbonambi, 1 Retshegofaditswe Nché.
Replacements: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Steven Kitshoff, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Salmaan Moerat, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Albertus Smith, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Willie le Roux.
Wales Starting XV: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar (captain), 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Will Rowlands, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Dewi Lake, 17 Rhys Carre, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Alun Wyn Jones, 20 Josh Navidi, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Gareth Anscombe, 23 Owen Watkin.
International rugby: South Africa vs Wales prediction and teams
Prediction methodology explained: The expected win percentage is based off publicly available odds. For example, if a team?s odds are 2.30, the expected chance of winning is 43%. If the odds are 1.62 the expected chance of winning is 62% and so on. These are accurate at the time of writing but are subject to change. Where there is no value listed, the odds were not available at the time of writing. Score margins use the methodology developed by Rugby Vision.
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