Wales assemble 'patched up' team for Boks clash
Coach Warren Gatland has assembled a Wales team locals are calling 'patched up' for Saturday’s clash against the Springboks at the Principality Stadium.
Gatland admitted that putting a team together has become increasingly tricky as his squad has suffered 11 injuries during their autumn series.
Saturday’s clash against the Springboks will be the last of their autumn commitments before they shift focus to next year’s Six Nations competition.
The team shows five changes from the one that lost to the All Blacks last weekend‚ with two amendments coming among the backs.
Kiwi-born Hadleigh Parkes qualifies to play for Wales through residency this weekend and he will immediately be ushered into Gatland’s side beset by injury and club commitments.
He will partner Scott Williams in midfield.
In a surprise move Gatland has opted to leave star scrumhalf Rhys Webb on the bench after the dynamo completed concussion protocols this week.
He was in a collision with All Blacks flank Sam Cane last week that necessitated his withdrawal from the action.
Aled Davies takes his place in the starting line-up and will pair up with the mildly eccentric Dan Biggar.
Kristian Dacey and Scott Andrews come into a new look front row‚ an area the Boks will be hoping to target this weekend.
Wales‚ however‚ will get much of their potency from their unchanged backrow Aaron Shingle‚ Josh Navidi and Toby Fauletau.
The team has‚ however‚ been in flux this autumn and is perhaps symptomatic of the rebuilding phase Wales are currently going through.
However‚ it doesn’t mean process will usurp outcomes in their approach.
“Saturday is an opportunity to continue to build on what we have done so far and round off the autumn campaign with a big performance‚” said Gatland.
Widening the depth in his squad is a key component of what the coach is trying to do.
“We have spoken about exposing the squad to Test match rugby and this weekend is a great opportunity for Hadleigh to earn his first cap and for Aled to make his first start of the campaign.
“We have had a couple of knocks from last weekend‚ with Ken (Owens)‚ Leon (Brown) and Jake ([Ball) unavailable but that just provides an opportunity for Kristian‚ Scott and Cory to start.”
Gatland was philosophical about the injuries‚ suggesting that blooding players now would serve them well in the long run.
“Definitely. That’s why we’ve left some reasonably experienced players out of the squad from the start.
"There was a chance to bring in some more depth and we knew what the other players were doing.
"The fact that we’ve picked up injuries gives more players that chance.
"I’m pretty excited about a couple of player looking long term. Players like Elliot Dee and Owen Watkin. Hopefully they can learn from the experience of being in camp.”
Wales team to play South Africa - Leigh Halfpenny; Hallam Amos‚ Scott Williams‚ Hadleigh Parkes‚ Steff Evans; Dan Biggar‚ Aled Davies; Taulupe Faletau ‚ Josh Navidi‚ Aaron Shingler; Alun Wyn Jones‚ Cory Hill; Scott Andrews‚ Kristian Dacey‚ Rob Evans.
Substitutes: Elliot Dee‚ Wyn Jones‚ Rhodri Jones‚ Seb Davies‚ Dan Lydiate; Rhys Webb‚ Rhys Patchell‚ Owen Watkin.