South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi says they are expecting an aerial battle against Wales when the teams clash in the Springboks’ opening autumn international on Nov. 6, with the visitors looking to improve a dismal recent record in Cardiff.
An under-strength Wales first face New Zealand at the Principality Stadium on Saturday, with the Boks interested spectators before their clash next weekend.
South Africa have not won in Cardiff since 2014, losing on their last four visits, though in that time they have two Rugby World Cup knockout victories over the Welsh, including the 2019 semifinal when they went on to lift the trophy.
"Our record in Cardiff hasn’t been one of the best and while we beat them in the World Cup, playing them at home is a different proposition," Mbonambi told reporters.
"We expect to face a team that doesn’t go away, that peppers us with a good aerial game and our backline will be put to the test.
"But we have this week and next to get our ducks in a row and prepare for the battle we will face. We’re working hard at ensuring we’re ready," he said.
The Boks, who will also face Scotland and England in the autumn series, will have one advantage on most recent matches in Cardiff, a full squad to select from.
Three of those four previous visits have been for games played outside the international window, forcing the Boks to field vastly under-strength sides.
Having played only 10 tests in two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mbonambi says these autumn matches are vital as they look forward to their World Cup defence in France in 2023.
"We’re a real process-driven team and we need to make sure our processes work on this tour. That’s why we will take it day-by-day and team-by-team."
"You are only as good as your last game, and we know as players if we take care of the hard work, the results will take care of themselves."
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Robert Birsel)