Middling Wales first up

THERE'S no doubt the month of June is "soccer month" but rugby fans will be kept happy knowing there are four internationals lined up for the Springboks, starting this weekend.

THERE'S no doubt the month of June is "soccer month" but rugby fans will be kept happy knowing there are four internationals lined up for the Springboks, starting this weekend.

At the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Saturday the Boks take on a Wales side that had a mediocre Six Nations earlier this year, securing two wins from five matches.

The Prince William Cup is up for grabs on Saturday, but just as important is the fact that these two teams are drawn in Pool D for next year's World Cup in New Zealand.

Though it is still more than a year away, it is also a great opportunity for players and management to get a close-up look at each other and pencil in a few weaknesses and strengths.

"We will be facing a good Welsh side," Springbok assistant coach Dick Muir told Sowetan at the weekend. "They are never an easy team to play against at home so we know we will have our work cut out."

John Smit will captain the Boks.

On June 12, the Springboks will be up against reigning European champions France at Newlands in Cape Town. The French are unpredictable. Though they made a clean sweep in this year's Six Nations with five out of five, they don't always tour well at this time of the year. But under coach Marc Lievremont they have been far more consistent.

The Boks then face Italy in two Tests - in Witbank, Mpumalanga, on June 19 and East London on June 26. The Italians, who are coached by former Springbok coach Nick Mallett, fall into the second tier of world rugby and it will be an ideal opportunity for Bok coach Peter de Villiers to try different combinations before the Tri-Nations gets under way against New Zealand on July 10.

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