Wales great Edwards calls Nienaber’s picks disrespectful: ‘When I first read it, I thought I made a mistake’

Jacques Nienaber. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP)

Jacques Nienaber. (Photo by Patrick HAMILTON / AFP)

Wales legend Gareth Edwards has lashed out at Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber for his raft of changes to his team for the second Test in Bloemfontein, calling them disrespectful to the tourists.

Edwards, who played for the British & Irish Lions in New Zealand and South Africa in the 1970s, told the UK Telegraph that he thought he’d made a mistake when he saw the Springbok 23.

Springbok team:

15 Warrick Gelant, 14 Kurt-Lee Arendse, 13 Jesse Kriel, 12 Andre Esterhuizen, 11 Aphelele Fassi, 10 Handre Pollard (captain), 9 Jaden Hendrikse, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marcell Coetzee, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Thomas du Toit

Substitutes: 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Ntuthuko Mchunu, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Ruan Nortje, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Deon Fourie, 22 Grant Williams, 23 Damian Willemse

Nienaber made 19 changes to the 23 that did duty at Loftus last week, where Wales gave them an all-mighty scare. Eben Etzebeth was the only starter who retained his place in the starting XV.

READ | Roos rise conjures ‘what if’ Augustus remained in SA: ‘It helps your Bok chances to stay’

As many as six debutants could also make their bow in the contest at the City of Roses come 17:05 on Saturday.

“If there had been five or six changes, you would maybe have raised an eyebrow. But 14 changes is overwhelming,” said Edwards.

“I don’t think it shows respect for Wales, and looking logically, there is only one way to view it and that’s to give them a good tonking, as they say.

“If Wales beat them, even by a drop-goal or by two penalties, people will say: ‘It was a new team, half a team.’ Every team in South Africa is tough, whether it is the first team, second team, third team; they have got depth, but I think the boys would have been prepared to play the same team again.

“When I read it, first of all, I thought I had made a mistake. When you are playing against the best side, it’s easier to get ready for them.

“All of a sudden, they don’t know who the hell these players they are playing against are, but they are going to be in green-and-gold jerseys. I think it has taken something away from it, but that’s not Wales’ fault.

“I think it shows a little bit of disrespect. It doesn’t matter that it’s Wales.

“These days, everyone is building towards the World Cup, so they have a different outlook. Yes, make changes, but not that many.”

Edwards also added that the selections would serve as motivation for the visitors, who were frothing at the mouth to beat their much-fancied counterparts last weekend already.

Tempers threatened to boil over in Pretoria as Welsh discipline descended as they received four yellow cards in the contest.

Wales will name their team on Thursday.