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Form guide: South Africa

Form guide: South Africa

South Africa France

South Africa will look to defend their Rugby World Cup crown when they travel to France next month, but first they must navigate a historic clash in the Summer Nations Series.

The Springboks will travel to Principality Stadium to face Wales, who are coming off the back of a win and a defeat against England in the last fortnight.

Jacques Nienaber’s side finished second in The Rugby Championship this summer, and will be one of the favourites when the World Cup gets underway next month.

So, ahead of the latest edition of a classic rivalry in the Summer Nations Series, let’s take a closer look at South Africa.

2023 so far

The Springboks got their year off to an impressive start, beating Australia 43-12 at the start of July to take the initiative in The Rugby Championship.

South Africa were missing several starters, but that did not stop Kurt-Lee Arendse from scoring a hat-trick in a convincing win.

Nienaber’s side also got on the scoresheet through two penalty tries and a Pieter-Steph du Toit finish.

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However, things took a turn for the worse a week later when they fell to defeat against a resurgent New Zealand side in Auckland.

The All Blacks won 35-20, with South Africa’s tries coming from Malcolm Marx, Cheslin Kolbe and Kwagga Smith.

South Africa bounced back by the narrowest of margins, beating Argentina 22-21 at Ellis Park Stadium in their final game of the Championship, with Eben Etzebeth, Damian de Allende and Manie Libbok crossing the whitewash for the hosts.

That was followed up by a more dominant 24-13 victory over the Pumas a week later.

Those results sent the Springboks into the Summer Nations Series on a high, but they will be hoping for an even more convincing win at Principality Stadium.

World Cup squad takeaways  

The good news for South Africa is captain Siya Kolisi is fit to feature in France.

The World Cup-winning skipper will also start against Wales having not taken to the field since April due to a knee injury.

However, the good news ends there, with Nienaber’s squad set to miss some of the stars of their 2019 triumph this time around.

Exciting centre Lukhanyo Am is out after injuring his knee during the win over Argentina at the start of August, while fly-half Handre Pollard injured his calf in the Gallagher Premiership semi-final against Sale Sharks.

They are joined on an ever-growing injury list by Lood de Jager, who has a problem with his chest, but all three Springboks are included on a star-studded six-man standby list.

Manie Libbok impressed during The Rugby Championship, but he is the only specialist ten included in the squad.

Damian Willemse will provide cover at fly-half having previously played in the position.

Munster lock Jean Kleyn represented Ireland at the 2019 World Cup, but he will be wearing a darker shade of green in France, having made his South Africa debut in the Rugby Championship.

Despite only having one specialist fly-half, South Africa will have an abundance of talent to pick from at scrum-half, with Faf de Klerk, Jaden Hendrikse, Cobus Reinach and Grant Williams all included.

Key player

South Africa’s squad is so talented that it is difficult to name one standout player.

Even without the likes of Am, Pollard and De Jager unavailable, this cohort is outrageously talented.

However, Willie le Roux has proven time and time again how important he is to this side at full-back.

With Willemse potentially set to be called upon at ten, Le Roux will be more important than ever to South Africa’s hopes of retaining their crown.

One to watch

Arendse may have caught the eye with his hat-trick against Australia, but Canan Moodie impressed enough during the Rugby Championship to force his way into the squad.

The 20-year-old winger caught the eye with an industrious display against Australia in the Rugby Championship before showing he has an eye for the try line against Argentina earlier this month.

He has already forced his way into the squad, and if he can keep up this level of performance, he could force his way into the starting XV.

History v Wales

The Summer Nations Series clash will be the 41st encounter between South Africa and Wales.

The Springboks currently have the edge, with 32 wins compared to Wales’ seven.

After almost 100 years of dominance in the fixture, the tide started to turn when Wales won their Test against South Africa in 1999.

They recorded their second victory in 2014 before securing four wins in a row between 2016 and 2018.

The Springboks have retaken control in recent times, winning four of the last five meetings between these two historic sides.

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