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Is this the team to face Wales?

The regular season of the URC has drawn to a close and only eight sides remain for the play-off stages. From a South African perspective, the Bulls (2nd) and Stormers (5th) are still in the race, with one or both sides expected to at least make it through to the semi-finals. For fans of both the Sharks and Lions, attentions will already be turning towards the Springboks 1st assignment. A test against Wales at Twickenham on the 22nd of June.

The Wales game is an international friendly as the Boks look to sharpen themselves up ahead of a massive and sold out test series against the Irish in July. The test falls outside of the official World Rugby sanctioned test window, meaning that a number of Springboks will be unavailable for the London game. Only players plying their trade in South Africa and Japan will be available for selection, with the caveat that the Bulls and Stormers players participation depends on their progression through the remainder of the URC.

The final of the URC will also take place on the 22nd of June, with a time clash SARU and the WRU really should have considered prior to scheduling the fixture. Should either or both of the Stormers make it to the semi-finals and further, they likely won't be on the plane to London for this one. Meaning front line Boks such as Willie Le Roux, Kurt-lee Arendse, Canan Moodie, Manie Libbok and Frans Malherbe to name a few will miss out.

Fortunately however, a large number of the Springbok squad is at the Sharks, who have been eliminated already. Another large contingent are based in Japan. This should lend well to the cause of the Green & Gold as they can look to balance a wealth of experience whilst looking to try out a few youngsters ahead of a busy test schedule.

Another great bit of news is that Malcolm Marx looks set to mark his return to test rugby, after suffering injury at the World Cup in France. His rehab is now complete and Rassie will be looking to get one of the worlds best players up to speed as quickly as possible before clashing with Ireland. Whether Marx starts or makes entry from the bench remains to be seen. Whilst Erasmus tends to prefer to start players lacking in game time so they can be replaced, a captaincy re-think in the absence of Siya could play a role in Marx coming in from the bench.

It also remains unclear as to Lood de Jager's availability after suffering a shoulder injury in the League one final. Up and coming Lions 9/10, Sanele Nohamba also sustained a concussion at the weekend, with the severity thereof unconfirmed. The most interesting selections are likely at 8 and 10, with the players tasked with those duties in France, not being available for the season opener.

Here is the 23 I would select to face Wales:

  1. Ox Nche

  2. Bongi Mbonambi

  3. Vincent Koch

  4. Eben Etzebeth

  5. Franco Mostert

  6. Kwagga Smith

  7. Pieter-Steph du Toit

  8. Phepsi Buthelezi

  9. Faf de Klerk

  10. Siya Masuku

  11. Makazole Mapimpi

  12. Damian De Allende

  13. Jesse Kriel

  14. Aphelele Fassi

  15. Cheslin Kolbe

  16. Malcolm Marx

  17. Ntuthuko Mchunu

  18. Asenathi Ntlabakanye

  19. Lood de Jager

  20. Francke Horn

  21. Grant Williams

  22. Sanele Nohamba

  23. Jordan Hendrikse

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