Wales deny psychological issues in South Africa after regional beatings

Wales attacking coach Stephen Jones has dismissed the suggestion that his players must overcome a significant mental barrier when they face the Springboks this weekend.

The question was posed to the former fly-half in light of Welsh Areas’ tribulations in South Africa at URC last season. Of the eight matches played by Welsh sides on South African soil, all ended in defeat, with abject performances culminating in an aggregate score of 351-106.

The lousy scoreline, however, lacks the context that the Welsh internationals were out for the majority of those games. Jones was quick to point out that the national team has fared much better in recent years.

Wales have won four of the last six matches against the Springboks, losing the last two.

“No, not at all,” he refuted. “If you look at the last six games that South Africa and Wales have played, they’ve been incredibly close.

“The vast majority of our squad were here last summer for the Lions tour. They had a lot of test matches against South Africa.

“From our perspective, we are looking forward to the test. We’ve got a wonderful group of players and it’s certainly been a long time since our last game against Italy and we’re chomping at the bit because we’ve got a world-class squad here, looking forward to an intense Test match.

An additional challenge Wales will have to overcome is the crowds. Saturday will be the first time fans will be allowed to watch the Springboks in person since becoming world champions in 2019.

A bustling crowd is expected to descend on the iconic Loftus Versfeld and Jones was adopting a ‘bring it’ mentality, hoping for a sold-out crowd.

He said: “Hopefully it’s sold out and that’s what you’re playing the game for.

” That would be great. That would be absolutely awesome. From our perspective, we are excited about the challenge ahead of us.

“As a player growing up, to play in South Africa in an incredible venue, which will be sold out, you have to be excited because you know it’s going to be a real challenge, an intense game.

“But that’s what you play the game for, to experience these environments, so it’s going to be very special for us.”

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