Wed 11 Jun 2014 | 02:40
Boks breathing fire as Dragons loom
Wed 11 Jun 2014 | 02:40
Boks breathing fire as Dragons loomSHARE
South Africa are determined to avoid falling into the complacency trap when they face a depleted Welsh team in Durban on Saturday.
Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer said he has the utmost respect for Wales, despite them bringing over a squad sans several key players – due to injuries.
Wales have lost some of their biggest stars before setting out for the Republic, none more so than skipper Sam Warburton.
Lock Bradley Davies, flank Justin Tipuric, fullback and kicker Leigh Halfpenny, as well as centre Scott Williams are also absent.
Hooker Richard Hibbard, scrumhalf Rhys Webb and flyhalf Rhys Priestland are others that have not made the flight over.
Wales coach Warren Gatland has had to cast his net wide in order to maintain some depth in selection and he accomplished this by having an old-fashioned trials match before departing.
Even with the huge number of absentees, Meyer refuses to be lured into complacency and is looking for his team to improve after a comprehensive win against the World XV at Newlands in Cape Town.
"There has been talk in South Africa that Wales is sending a second string team and there are many injuries," the coach told a media conference in Durban ahead of the first Test.
"We know they have got a whole team out basically and a new captain, but I have always had respect for Wales.
"They have got unbelievable backs, big strong ball carriers, if you look at their backs they are all over 1.9 metres and over 100kgs."
Meyer announced at the same time that Jan Serfontein would be taking over the No.12 jersey from Frans Steyn, who has ruled himself out of Test selection for the immediate future.
Serfontein will be up against world-class centres in Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, but Meyer clearly has faith in the young man.
"What they do is get go forward ball with their backs and attack the 10 and 12 channel so we know we have to defend well there," the coach added.
"They are a team that can keep the ball for a lot of phases like they showed last night [against the Kings], they have a quality pack, good in the set phases and obviously they are very motivated coming to South Africa and playing against the Boks.
"They are a real quality side."
Meyer is aware of the history between the two nations with Wales often running the Springboks close, most recently in the 2011 World cup where they were pipped by a single point.
"I have always respected their coaching team as well and if you look at their previous games against us, you will se they have always been close, even before my time.
"We know it is going to be a tough, tough battle, they have come from the Six Nations, they have had Trials and they have had a week off to prepare.
"We want to use this week to prepare but we need to also improve because we know it will be a much tougher battle than the previous Saturday."