Preview: Wales Women v South Africa Women

Wales Women are looking to make a statement as they prepare to kick off the first of their three autumn Test matches against South Africa on Saturday.

Wales Women are looking to make a statement as they prepare to kick off the first of their three autumn Test matches against South Africa on Saturday.

After a summer revamp of their selection process, Rowland Phillips has called on four new bodies, all of whom could potentially make their Wales debuts at Cardiff Arms Park.

Ospreys full-back Lauren Smyth is the only member of that quartet who will start the match, selected after impressing in her side’s dominant run to the Regional Title.

The 17-year-old had graduated through Wales’ sevens programme and is one of eight Ospreys players in the starting XV against South Africa.

Captain Carys Phillips starts at hooker, with club teammates Amy Evans, Siwan Lillicrap and Mel Clay joining her in the pack.

Alisha Butchers returns in the back row after a long-term injury lay-off, while among the backs Alecs Donovan starts at centre with Robyn Wilkins moving to fly-half.

On the bench, Manon Johnes, Ffion Lewis and Alicia McComish will all be hoping to grab a first appearance in the national shirt.

Wales Women v South Africa Women, Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff, Saturday 10 November, 11:30am GMT

Rowland Phillips (Wales Head Coach): “Playing three autumn Tests is a serious statement of intent with regards to the continued development of Welsh women’s rugby.

“We know that South Africa are a good, powerful side who have made significant progress recently. It’s a great opportunity to play these matches as part of the international weekends in Cardiff.

Stanley Raubenheimer (South Africa coach): “There is a reason it is called a Test match, so there will certainly be more pressure going into this game.

“They are a regular Test-playing nation, so we are expecting them to be very strong at set-piece time, while they also have good ball-carriers among their forwards.”

Carys Phillips (Wales captain): “The feeling in the camp is really good at the minute and getting these three challenging games ahead are only going to help us.

“We’re really excited for these three games to begin and hopefully we can get this campaign kicked off with a win.”

Key Battle: The Pack

It looks as though the key to victory in this one lies with the forwards.

Both sides are aware of the power that their opposite number possesses in the pack, and it will no doubt be fascinating to see who comes out on top.

Both Rowland Phillips and Springboks captain Nolusindo Booi spoke ahead of the game of the strength that they will face when the two sides scrum down at Cardiff Arms Park, so expect plenty of action to go through the forwards.

With Rowland’s daughter Carys leading the line at hooker, Wales will fancy their chances, as they will look to the experience of their skipper to marshal them to victory.

Stat Watch:

– This marks the start of Wales Women’s first ever three-Test Autumn series. In addition to the South Africa match they will host Hong Kong on Friday 16 November and Canada on Saturday 24 November.

– Wales have played South Africa six times in total, winning four and losing two, the latest of which came when they beat the Springboks 35-3 at the Women’s Rugby World Cup in 2014.

– This will be South Africa Women’s first Test match on tour.

Wales: 15 Lauren Smyth, 14 Jasmine Joyce, 13 Alecs Donovan, 12 Kerin Lake, 11 Jess Kavanagh, 10 Robyn Wilkins, 9 Keira Bevan, 1 Caryl Thomas, 2 Carys Phillips (c), 3 Amy Evans, 4 Siwan Lillicrap, 5 Mel Clay, 6 Alisha Butchers, 7 Bethan Lewis, 8 Sioned Harries Replacements: 16 Kelsey Jones, 17 Cara Hope, 18 Cerys Hale, 19 Natalia John, 20 Manon Johnes, 21 Ffion Lewis, 22 Alicia McComish, 23 Lisa Neumann

South Africa: 15 Vuyolwethu Maqholo, 14 Nosiphiwo Goda, 13 Demi Nel, 12 Zinhle Ndawonde, 11 Snenhlanhla Shozi, 10 Zintle Mpupha, 9 Tayla Kinsey, 8 Aseza Hele, 7 Sinazo Mcatshulwa, 6 Lusanda Dumke, 5 Nolusindiso Booi (c), 4 Bernice Strydom, 3 Babalwa Latsha, 2 Annique Geswind, 1 Thantaswa Macingwane Replacements: 16 Lindelwa Gwala, 17 Yonela Ngxingolo, 18 Katlego Moremi, 19 Karthy Dludla, 20 Charmaine Kayser, 21 Felicia Jacobs, 22 Fundiswa Plaatjie, 23 Kirsten Conrad