The Springbok team that was named for the second Test against Wales at the Free State stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday is a bit of an insult to Wales.
Bok coach Jacques Nienaber was at pains during Tuesday’s team announcement to explain why they weren’t underestimating or disrespecting Wales with the team selection that features 14 changes to the run on team and 19 to the match-23.
A number of local writers and pundits have also come out in defence of the Bok management, saying that it isn’t arrogant or a dismissal of the Welsh challenge.
While that may be true, the fact remains that any team that is willing to name that many changes between matches is insulting the opposition, even if it is just slightly.
Welsh rugby legend Sir Gareth Edwards even came out recently to say that the Boks had disrespected Wales by naming a ‘B’ team.
That’s not to say that what the Bok management team did was wrong, and is in fact a bold new approach that I hope will be utilised more often heading towards the 2023 World Cup.
The fact of the matter is that the Springboks have incredible depth, and even after naming a packed 42-player squad for the international season, there were still many players left out who would walk into most international starting line-ups around the world.
The team set to face Wales on Saturday is also one that can challenge most international sides the world over, and is good enough to get a win over the Welsh.
Players like Eben Etzebeth, Trevor Nyakane, Handre Pollard and Pieter-Steph du Toit are the only players in the starting XV for Saturday that can be considered as first-team starters.
However, it is hard to call any of the others ‘B’ team players, as they could all easily feature in a full strength Bok team during the season.
The only thing that is stacked heavily against them is that many of them have not played together as a team before and it remains to be seen whether they will be able to gel enough to give Wales a run for their money.
In the end the visitors will be eager to claim a big win to make a statement that they shouldn’t be underestimated, while the Boks will be aiming to vindicate the selection with a win.