Strong Bok team for Welsh clash

World champions South Africa will be almost at full strength for next month’s Test match against Wales in Cardiff, the Welsh Rugby Union (WRU) said on Friday.

Springbok captain John Smit will lead South Africa, who won the World Cup last Saturday when they beat England in the final in Paris, in the Test at the Millennium Stadium on November 24.

Among those expected to line up against Wales, who failed to reach the tournament quarterfinals when they were upset by Fiji, are World Player of the Year Bryan Habana, centre Francois Steyn, flanker Schalk Burger and lock Victor Matfield.

The WRU said in a statement that it had received a pledge from South Africa that they would field virtually their World Cup-winning side.

”This is great news but it is no less than we expected,” Wales’s caretaker coach Nigel Davies, in charge since Gareth Jenkins was sacked after the World Cup, was quoted as saying.

”South Africa are not going to want to come to Cardiff and lose their first game after becoming world champions. They will want to make a show of it and come here and beat us.

”This is a great opportunity for everyone involved in the team to test ourselves against the best team in the world at the moment,” he added.

Prop Os du Randt, who also helped South Africa win their first world title in 1995, is one of the few players not available for the tour, which includes a match against the Barbarians at Twickenham a week later.

South Africa are also waiting on fullback Percy Montgomery, who is recovering from injury. — Reuters

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