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Wales captain Jones on bench for first Springboks Test

Adam Beard and Will Rowlands will be the starting locks in front a sell-out 52,000 crowd.

Image: Billy Stickland/INPHO

BRITISH AND IRISH Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones will start on the bench and flanker Tommy Reffell will win his first cap for Wales against South Africa on Saturday.

The clash of the world champion Springboks and ninth-ranked Wales in Pretoria is the first match of a three-Test series with the tourists hoping to win in the republic for the first time.

Jones led the Lions in a 2-1 series defeat by South Africa last year but Adam Beard and Will Rowlands will be the starting locks in front a sell-out 52,000 crowd at Loftus Versfeld stadium.

Ospreys second-row Jones, the world’s most capped player, last captained his country in October’s defeat to New Zealand when he suffered a shoulder injury.

Outside centre George North has recovered from injury and returns after missing the 2022 Six Nations to partner Nick Tompkins in midfield.

Openside flanker and former Wales under-20 captain Reffell joins Dan Lydiate and Taulupe Faletau in the back row.

Wales last played in March, suffering a humiliating home defeat to Italy, the perennial Six Nations strugglers.

Only seven of that starting line-up have been retained by New Zealand-born coach Wayne Pivac, including wingers Louis Rees-Zammit and Josh Adams and captain and fly-half Dan Biggar.

Pivac has also kept faith with props Gareth Thomas and Dillon Lewis, Beard and Faletau for the 11th clash with the Springboks in South Africa.

Loftus Versfeld has been a particularly unhappy venue for Wales, who have conceded 186 points in three Tests there, including 96 in 1998.

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But Pivac, whose team have won only four of their last 12 internationals, is upbeat ahead of the showdown with the Siya Kolisi-skippered Springboks.

“The guys have had a good build up this week, have really enjoyed each other’s company and just being away in different surroundings,” Pivac said.

“It is going to be a great atmosphere in Pretoria on Saturday, a great challenge and one we are looking forward to.”

Wales: Liam Williams; Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams; Dan Biggar (capt), Kieran Hardy; Taulupe Faletau, Tommy Reffell, Dan Lydiate; Adam Beard, Will Rowlands; Dillon Lewis, Ryan Elias, Gareth Thomas

Replacements: Dewi Lake, Rhys Carre, Tomas Francis, Alun Wyn Jones, Josh Navidi, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Owen Watkin

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