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Ryan Elias: Wales’ pack excited to test themselves against the best

Ryan Elias during training.

Ryan Elias: Wales’ pack excited to test themselves against the best

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Playing at a sold-out Loftus Versfeld against arguably the strongest pack of forwards in the game would intimidate a lot of players, but Ryan Elias and his teammates are excited to test themselves against the world champions.

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Wales take on South Africa in Pretoria this Saturday with the Springboks having named a formidable starting XV. The front-row of Ox Nche, Bongi Mbonambi, and Frans Malherbe along with replacements Malcolm Marx, Steven Kitshoff, and Vincent Koch are heavily respected throughout the game.

Wales name their team for the first test tomorrow  and Scarlets hooker Elias insist the squad are viewing it as a fantastic opportunity to prove themselves against the best in the business. “It’s a big challenge, but it’s something myself personally and the team are really looking forward to,” he said.

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“They are one of the best packs in the world. They have big men, technically very good at scrum time, in the lineout as well, and around the park.

“They are very physical, and we’ve got to match that as forwards with intensity and physicality otherwise it is going to be a long day for us. The respect is there because they are a very good scrummaging outfit, but at the same time you can’t give them too much respect.

“We want to be competitive and take it to them as well. It’s a fine line.

“It’s about getting our processes right and what we want to impose on them.” Saturday’s test will be played at altitude which is something Wayne Pivac’s men have been acclimatising to over the past few days.

Elias admits playing at altitude will be a big challenge but is confident Wales can overcome it. “We arrived on Friday, had a bit of a trot on the Saturday just to get the legs moving,” said the 27-year-old.

“We’ve now ramped it up a bit more and you can definitely feel it on the lungs. It probably felt a bit easier today compared to the Saturday.

“It’s just a case of trying to adapt to it pretty fast. I don’t think I’ve played for a good six weeks and that’s the case for a lot of the boys.

“We’ve been in camp and done a lot of work in the gym, and running down on the pitch. I think physically we are in a good place just hopefully when it comes to the game time there’s no rustiness and we can just fly into it.”

Loftus Versfeld is expected to be packed to the rafters on Saturday in what is a record crowd between the two nations in South Africa. “We have touched on it in meetings but to be honest a lot of our time has been spent focussing on ourselves, and getting everything right our end,” said Elias.

“We all know it’s going to be a hostile place to play. For myself personally I’m really excited about playing there.”

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