Activate discovery+Sep 23
Dan Biggar says Wales require a “10-15 per cent” improvement in their quest for a Test series-levelling victory over South Africa on Saturday.
And Wales captain Biggar also poured cold water on Sir Gareth Edwards’ suggestion that the Springboks have disrespected the tourists with their second Test team selection.
Springboks head coach Jacques Nienaber has made 14 changes from the line-up that edged past Wales 32-29 in a thrilling series opener last weekend, with six uncapped players featuring in his match-day 23.
Nienaber’s line-up contains a total of 393 caps, but 321 of those Test appearances are shared by just five players in lock Eben Etzebeth, fly-half Handre Pollard, centre Jesse Kriel, prop Trevor Nyakane and flanker Pieter-Steph Du Toit.
Biggar, though, has no doubt about Wales’ degree of difficulty in Bloemfontein as they target a first win against the Springboks on South African soil.
“We put on a really good show last week and in my opinion we are going to have to improve 10-15 per cent to get anything out of Saturday,” he said.
“I know the side we played last weekend are renowned, experienced, World Cup winners and the rest of that, but this team, you have got Pollard at 10 and some real exciting form players.
You look at the team-sheet and I don't expect this to be anything other than an incredibly tough game
- Wales captain Dan Biggar
“When I saw that they had made 14 changes, I was thinking ‘who are they going to bring in’? But then you look at the team sheet and I don’t expect this to be anything other than an incredibly tough game.
“We didn’t surprise ourselves because we believed in what we were doing, but the (first Test) performance has given us a real boost going into this weekend and hopefully a decider in a week’s time.
“We had a real edge to us and we make no apologies for that. We tried to get amongst South Africa, under their skin a little bit and turn it into a bit of a scrap as well.
“We are well aware that if you just gift them everything, roll over and be whiter than white, then you are going to come off second-best quite comfortably.”
World Cup winner Pollard’s return, fresh from helping Montpellier win the French Top 14 title, is a key development.
Former world player of the year Du Toit is also back, while Northampton star Biggar knows all about Harlequins centre Andre Esterhuizen, who partners Jesse Kriel in midfield.
Biggar added: “He (Pollard) does the basics very well, settles the team down and gives them a focal point.
“There is a notable difference when he doesn’t play and that is almost the biggest compliment you can give him, really.
“When you play against him, you have to be very good and try to keep your error-rate down because he is the type of player who punishes errors.
“And 12 (Esterhuizen) has been the form player in the Premiership. They have managed to swap a World Cup winner and a brilliant player in (Damian) De Allende with Esterhuizen coming in. It certainly doesn’t weaken them.
“Quins play with quite a lot of passes and continuity, moving the ball quite a lot, but what they have got with him is a guy who can get them over the gain-line, which makes life easier however you want to play.
“When you put good players together under a very good coaching set-up, which South Africa have, then they are going to be pretty organised and pretty switched on.
“Admittedly, it was disappointing the way it (first Test) came to an end for us, but I think with the performance we produced, it was quite easy to get back on the horse.
“The boys have been in good spirits and really looking forward to this weekend to go one better.”