Sport Rugby

Sunday 21 January 2018

Pienaar talks up Phillips threat

Andrew Gwilym

South Africa scrum-half Ruan Pienaar is wary of the threat posed by his under-fire opposite number Mike Phillips when the Springboks meet Wales today.

Phillips has been Wales' first-choice No 9, when fit, since Warren Gatland took charge before the 2008 Six Nations but he has come under pressure this week for his performance in last weekend's 25-16 loss to Australia.

The Ospreys half-back was part of a back line that failed to trouble the Wallabies defence and replacement Richie Rees added some much-needed tempo to the attack when he made a late try-scoring cameo appearance.

Many pundits had expected Rees to start today's Millennium Stadium contest, but Gatland has kept faith with Phillips and Ulster player Pienaar knows his side cannot afford to take a fired-up Phillips lightly if they are to follow up their victory over Ireland in Dublin with another win in Cardiff today.

"I have not read any papers this week but I know he is under a bit of pressure," Pienaar said. "But you don't become a bad player overnight. He is one of the better nines in world rugby and every time he gets picked in the Welsh jersey all the players around him are confident."

Wales -- L Byrne; G North, T Shanklin, J Hook, S Williams; S Jones, M Phillips; G Jenkins, M Rees (Capt), A Jones, B Davies, AW Jones, D Lydiate, M Williams, J Thomas. Reps: H Bennett, P James, R Jones, A Powell, R Rees, A Bishop, C Czekaj.

South Africa -- G Aplon; B Basson, F Steyn, J de Villiers, B Habana; M Steyn, R Pienaar; T Mtawarira, B du Plessis, J du Plessis, B Botha, V Matfield (Capt), D Stegmann, J Smith, P Spies. Reps: C Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, F van der Merwe, TBC, F Hougaard, Z Kirchner, P Lambie.

Ref -- S Walsh (New Zealand).

Wales v South Africa,

Live, BBC 1/Setanta Irl, 2.30

Irish Independent

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