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Shaun Edwards expects 'gladiatorial' contest with South Africa in Cardiff

Last Updated: 04/11/13 4:25pm

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Shaun Edwards: Expecting a bruising battle with Springboks

Shaun Edwards: Expecting a bruising battle with Springboks

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Shaun Edwards is predicting a "gladiatorial" Test match when Wales open their autumn international series against South Africa on Saturday.

It will be the countries' first encounter since a gripping 2011 World Cup pool game in Wellington that South Africa edged 17-16.

Wales subsequently went on to reach the World Cup semi-finals and win successive Six Nations titles, but they have only beaten the Springboks once in 26 meetings stretching back 107 years.

Wales coach Warren Gatland is set to name his team on Tuesday, with injured backs Alex Cuthbert and Jamie Roberts probably being replaced by Scarlets pair Liam Williams and Scott Williams, respectively.

Rhys Priestland is being tipped to return at fly-half following his Achilles tendon injury last term, while Cardiff Blues forward Bradley Davies could partner Alun-Wyn Jones at lock.

"If you like your rugby as gladiatorial, then get a ticket for Saturday because this will be no place for the faint-hearted," Wales defence specialist Edwards said.

"We have to muscle up against these boys. We practise our tackling a lot, but we certainly have been concentrating on that this week.

Skilful

"South Africa are also a skilful team as well and they are not just based on power, which they proved by scoring four tries against the All Blacks last time they played. They play with a lot of width as well, so they have a lot of options.

"Probably the best team I have ever coached against was the South African team of 2009, although there have been some great New Zealand sides. That South African team beat New Zealand three times in the same season.

"This is the best Springboks team since then, and (coach) Heyneke Meyer has done a great job. We know what we are going up against."

Recounting the World Cup clash two years ago, Edwards added: "I watched it the other day. It just shows the small margins at elite level sport.

"But I would have been a lot more worried if we had lost that match by 30 points than just losing by one.

"We have had some close calls with South Africa over the years and there has only been a few lapses of concentration that have stopped us winning."

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