Wales ‘raring to go’ and want to ‘create a bit of history’ on South Africa tour
Adam Beard wants Wales to be history-makers on their tour of South Africa.
The odds are stacked against last year’s Guinness Six Nations champions across a three-Test series that begins on Saturday.
Wales’ degree of difficulty is increased by the opening two games – in Pretoria and Bloemfontein – being at altitude.
And they have also never beaten the Springboks in South Africa, losing all 10 previous Tests, with many of those results being comprehensive defeats.
“It is obviously going to be tough, physically and mentally,” Wales lock Beard said.
“We are in a really good space as a squad. We’ve trained well and we know what is on the line here – to create our own bit of history.
“It would be an awesome feeling going out there and creating that history.
“The boys are ready, the boys are raring to go, and we can’t wait to get stuck into it.”
Beard is likely to be among a number of British and Irish Lions on last year’s South Africa tour featuring in Wales’ starting line-up.
And that experience, albeit in games behind closed doors due to the coronavirus pandemic, will undoubtedly be beneficial for Wales head coach Wayne Pivac.
Beard added: “It was the experience of going on the tour, meeting guys from different countries, learning off people.
“To get a Test match (appearance) was an unbelievable experience.
“Looking at South Africa, they are a big physical team that pride themselves on the set-piece and being physical and direct.
“Those are the sort of games that I enjoy and I feel like it’s when I come up trumps and I can use my points of difference.”
Pivac is due to announce his starting line-up on Thursday for Wales’ first clash against the Springboks in South Africa since 2014.
And there are likely to be a number of changes from the side beaten 22-21 by Six Nations opponents Italy three months ago.
Three of that team – Johnny McNicholl, Uilisi Halaholo and Seb Davies – are not on the tour, but Pivac is boosted by players like George North and Dan Lydiate being available following long-term injuries.
Both players have been out of Test rugby for more than a year, last featuring in Wales colours during the 2021 Six Nations.
North looks set to start at outside centre, while 34-year-old Lydiate could reclaim the number six shirt.
Elsewhere, full-back Liam Williams, scrum-half Tomos Williams and prop Tomas Francis are set for returns.
And Pivac must decide whether to retain 150 times-capped Alun Wyn Jones in the second row, with Beard and Will Rowlands also pushing hard for starting places.
Meanwhile, Leicester number eight Jasper Wiese will start for South Africa in Saturday’s first Test against Wales.
The Tigers forward, who scored a try when Leicester beat Gallagher Premiership final opponents Saracens on June 18, features in a powerful Springboks side skippered by Siya Kolisi.
Kolisi is among nine players that started South Africa’s 23-18 victory over Wales in Cardiff last November.
The former Sale pair of scrum-half Faf De Klerk and lock Lood De Jager also start as the three-match series opens at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.
Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has opted for six forwards and just two backs among his replacements.
“We have a talented group of players, and we believe the match-day squad we selected ticks the boxes in terms of what we would like to achieve in the opening Test against Wales,” Nienaber said.
“We have a plan for the season in terms of giving some of the young players a chance to show what they can do at international level, while at the same time taking stock of the seasoned campaigners and where they are in terms of their rugby.
“Unfortunately, with such a big squad there will always be a few unlucky players, but it is a fine balancing act to ensure we win Tests, build squad depth and transform as a team in the way we play.”
Team: D Willemse; C Kolbe, L Am, D De Allende, M Mapimpi; E Jantjies, F De Klerk; O Nche, B Mbonambi, F Malherbe, E Etzebeth, L De Jager, S Kolisi (capt), F Mostert, J Wiese.
Replacements: M Marx, S Kitshoff, V Koch, S Moerat, E Louw, K Smith, H Jantjies, W Le Roux.
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