Preview: Wales v South Africa

Warren Gatland during the warm up 17/3/2018
The first summer internationals kick off on Saturday as Wales travel to Washington DC to take on South Africa.

The first summer internationals kick off on Saturday as Wales travel to Washington DC to take on South Africa.

With many NatWest 6 Nations stars on show for the Welsh, it promises to be an intriguing contest.

Team news

Warren Gatland has made 13 changes to the team that beat France by a single point on the final day of the Championship in March.

Only George North and Cory Hill are still included in the starting XV to face the Springboks, with Gatland experimenting in the hope of developing some fresh talent with the 2019 Rugby World Cup in mind.

Scrum-half Tomos Williams will make his international debut, while Gareth Anscombe comes in at 10 to pull the strings and Owen Watkin partners North in midfield.

Hallam Amos returns to the side at full-back, with Tom Prydie and Steff Evans on either wing.

The front three comprises of Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Dillon Lewis, with Hill and Bradley Davies in the second row and captain Ellis Jenkins, Ross Moriarty and Seb Davies along the back.

Click here for the full team announcement

Spotlight on the Springboks

South Africa head coach Rassie Erasmus has also named an experimental side, with a host of uncapped players given a chance to prove themselves on the big stage.

Seven debutants have been named in the starting line-up, with six players on the bench also without an international cap.

Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit captains a starting team that has an average age of 24, containing 134 caps.

What they said:

Warren Gatland said: “Saturday is a huge opportunity for this squad and for players individually.

“We said to all the players that this tour is an opportunity, everyone would be involved in a 23.

“Players aren’t just here to make up the numbers or hold tackle bags, we want everyone to get a chance.

“Everything we are doing is geared for the RWC in 15 months’ time and the next three matches are a hugely important part of our development.

“This weekend is an opportunity for players to build on their test rugby experience and lay a marker down for the jersey, and for the position going forward.

“I think there are exciting selections across the team and I’m looking forward to Saturday to see what we are able to do against the Springboks.”

Rassie Erasmus said: “As coaches, we are tremendously excited about the prospect of seeing some of our best young players getting the opportunity to play at this level.

“Wales have a very solid and effective kicking strategy and their cohesive forward and set-piece play are some of their main strong points.

“However, I do believe that we have picked a match-day squad that will be able to compete very strongly.”

Head to head – Makazole Mapimpi v Steff Evans

Before leaving Toyota Cheetahs to join Sharks half way through the season, Makazole Mapimpi was the top try scorer in the Guinness PRO14 league with 10 tries in 13 appearances.

With lethal pace and a keen eye for an offload, uncapped Mapimpi will be a constant threat to the Welsh side and will be a handful in attack.

However, Wales have a speedster of their own, with Steff Evans in scorching form for Scarlets this season.

The 23-year-old has eight tries in 14 appearances for the Llanelli outfit this season, along with nine caps for Wales which included tries against Scotland and Ireland in the 2018 NatWest 6 Nations.

If Wales stick to their attacking gameplan and get the ball out to the wing, Evans is deadly with ball in hand and may prove the difference in America on Saturday.