Du Plessis hails Boks' forward strength
September 9, 2011
Du Plessis will start for the Boks while his brother Bismarck is on the bench © Getty Images
Front-row Jannie du Plessis believes the strength in depth the Springboks possess will pay dividends throughout their World Cup campaign.
Although lock Bakkies Botha has lost his battle to be fit for the game due to an Achilles problem, Springboks coach Peter de Villiers' selection makes no secret of how South Africa might attack their opening Pool D opponents. While Danie Rossouw replaces Botha, De Villiers' intentions are clear through a bench combination that features five forwards, including an entire reserve front-row.
The substitutes also feature flanker Willem Alberts, who played a starring role in successfully turning around a 20-9 deficit for South Africa at the Millennium Stadium last November. "I guess if you play a Test match you go full out from the start, regardless of whether you've got two props on the bench or not," said Du Plessis, who packs down alongside Tendai Mtawarira and John Smit. "I think it (the bench) is proof that we think the Welsh pack is good.
"They are a settled pack, so picking five forwards and two backs is really quite a compliment to their forward pack. I think it's brilliant that we play a tough game right from the start because then you can get right into the thing. It's not like you can postpone a big challenge."
De Villiers added: "The first game, there are a few things we want to try out. I believe we've got a really strong bench. You like to play to your strengths, and that's the reason we went for that (five forwards).
"We know what we want to achieve out of this game, and the make-up of the bench actually goes for that."
Lock Victor Matfield, who has won a Springboks record 107 caps, features in the starting line-up despite suffering from a hamstring niggle earlier this week. And De Villiers has named the most experienced Springboks team in history, boasting a combined total of 815 caps. It surpasses the previous highest total of 810 against Australia in Durban last month.
There are five changes from South Africa's last game, an 18-5 Tri-Nations victory over New Zealand three weeks ago, with Rossouw, Mtawarira, Smit, full-back Frans Steyn and flanker Schalk Burger all recalled. There are 11 players in the starting XV who were part of South Africa's victorious 2007 World Cup squad, including wing Bryan Habana, who needs one try to break Joost van der Westhuizen's Springboks Test record of 38 touchdowns.
South Africa have won 23 of their previous 25 games against Wales, although Sunday's encounter is the first World Cup meeting.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"I had a perfect record against England as did a few other Welshmen. England always seemed to bring the best out of us." John Taylor on the age-old rivalry
Are the margins between the teams in the Six Nations getting smaller year-on-year? Huw Richards gives some answers
Martin Gillingham looks at the state of play in the Top 14 and gives his take on the club versus country battle harming the prospects of the French side
Manu Tuilagi, Cockerill's psychological warfare and Saracens' brute strength - it is the Monday Maul