Wales coach Wayne Pivac has steered clear of any judgement on South Africa’s wholesale team reshuffle for Saturday’s second rugby Test, which has been labelled disrespectful.
The Springboks decided to make 14 changes after last weekend’s narrow first Test victory in Pretoria for Saturday’s clash in Bloemfontein, a decision former Welsh great Gareth Edwards described as disgraceful.
But Pivac on Thursday carefully picked his way through questions at a news conference in Johannesburg about his opinion on the South Africa decision to use the second test to experiment with a largely new-look side.
“From our point of view, it’s a big focus on what we can improve from the last Test match.
“We are in a different part of the cycle; really we’re at the end of our season, they’re at the start of theirs. They’ll have their reasoning why they did it,” the Wales coach said.
“They’ve got depth and quality throughout the squad and some experience in this team. So we’re certainly not taking them lightly at all.
“There are players playing there with an opportunity to impress for the third test so we know they’ll come out strongly and represent their country like anyone else in that jersey. So for us, it’s around what we can control and that’s our performance,” Pivac added.
Earlier this week, Edwards told reporters: “The big disappointment for me was to learn South Africa are going to change virtually their whole team.
“They have got every right to prepare for the World Cup, but I would really like to know what their logic is in changing so many. I suppose the only way they can justify it is if they win. I think it shows a little bit of disrespect.
“I think they (the Wales players) are probably talking to each other and saying, ‘Right boys, that’s what they think of us’. I think it is great motivation for Wales,” he said.
South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber has defended his selection. “We’ll never choose a team we believe can’t win. I’ve said it many times before. This isn’t a platform for development,” he said on Tuesday.
“You have to perform. That’s the most important and only requirement. It will be tight because we’re facing a Wales team desperate to still win this series.”