Wales ready to meet South Africa’s physicality head on, says Aaron Wainwright
Aaron Wainwright admits Wales will face a team that sets the bar in terms of physicality when they meet World Cup warm-up opponents South Africa on Saturday.
Wales’ final preparation Test promises to be a full-on spectacle at the Principality Stadium, with reigning world champions South Africa parading many of their star names.
Fit-again captain Siya Kolisi returns to the starting line-up after recovering from a serious knee injury, while 390 caps worth of experience up front also includes players such as Steven Kitshoff, Malcolm Marx and Pieter-Steph du Toit.
“We have spoken about physicality all week,” Wales number eight Wainwright said.
“If there is a team you are going to come up against at international level that is going to set the bar physicality-wise it is going to be South Africa.
“We have spoken about what we can bring to them in the physical test.
“Let’s not wait for them to bring the challenge to us. Let’s get off the line and meet them and show what we can do physically.
“I think the past two games we have played against England we have set our mark physicality-wise and it’s about building on that now, taking it into Saturday and then the World Cup.
“It is going to be a big test for us, but we have spoken about that and we know that is coming.”
Wainwright looks like being a key part of Wales’ back-row armoury at the World Cup.
He made his Test debut in 2018 and featured during the following year’s global showpiece tournament in Japan, but he has also experienced time in the wilderness, not being involved for 14 successive Tests before Wales faced France in last season’s Six Nations.
“Going to Japan quite young and experiencing that World Cup, I look back with fond memories, but I probably did not capture it as well as I would have liked to,” he added.
“The training camps I have gone on this time in Switzerland and Turkey I have been able to experience things a lot more, enjoy working hard and being around the boys.
“I played the final game of the Six Nations and loved my opportunity to get back on the pitch and put the red jersey on again.
“You can see the depth we are developing across the back row. Taulupe (Faletau) is out for now, but he is pretty close to returning, which is great for the team and for him.
“For me, it is another chance to put my hand up on the weekend and show what I can do.
“I enjoy my rugby more when I get my hands on the ball and carry. If I can keep doing that, I can keep putting my hands up.”
Wales head coach Warren Gatland’s final 33-strong World Cup squad will be announced on Monday, but a formidable Springboks challenge means that minds cannot be allowed to wander.
“It is going to be in the back of people’s minds, naturally, because it is a World Cup selection,” Wainwright said.
“But is about getting on the pitch and playing as well as you can and letting the rest take care of itself.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.