South Africa v Wales: Prop Tomas Francis back in full training ahead of opening Test

South Africa v Wales: Prop Tomas Francis back in full training ahead of opening Test

Venue: Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria Date: Saturday, 2 July Kick-off: 16:05 BST
Coverage: Updates on BBC Radio Wales and Radio Cymru, plus live text and match report on the BBC Sport website

Wales say all their players, including prop Tomas Francis, are in contention for selection for the first Test against South Africa in Pretoria.

Francis has been nursing a back injury but attack coach Stephen Jones says the Ospreys tight-head is recovering.

“He’s good, he’s back to full training, which is great,” said Jones.

“We’re all fit and healthy, which is great for us at this time of the year. To have everyone available to us is fantastic.”

Ospreys fly-half Gareth Anscombe has linked up with the squad late after just missing out on the birth of his second child.

“He’s been brilliant and he trained with us today,” added Jones.

“We gave him the extra 48 hours to hopefully be there for the birth of his child. But in fairness to him he’s come out here, trained and he’s in a very good place.”

The Wales professional regions have struggled against the South African sides in the United Rugby Championship, with no teams winning away in eight attempts.

When Jones was asked whether the Wales players had a mental barrier to overcome, he replied: “No, not at all. If you look at the last six games that South Africa and Wales have played, they have been incredibly close.

“The vast majority of our group were out here last summer for the Lions tour. They’ve experienced a lot of Test matches against South Africa.”

Jones is looking forward to the prospect of facing the world champions in front of a capacity crowd in Loftus Versfeld.

The Springboks have been unable to play in front of a full home stadium since winning the World Cup in 2019 because of Covid-19 restrictions, which were relaxed earlier this month.

“As a player growing up, to play South Africa in an amazing venue, which will be sold out, you have to be excited because you know that it’ll be a real challenge, an intense game,” added Jones.

“But that’s the reason you play the game, to experience those environments, so it’s going to be very special for us.”

Wales will also have to contend with the first two Tests being played at altitude, with Bloemfontein hosting the following Saturday before a return to sea level in Cape Town for the third and final Test.

“The advantage is that we got here early and we’ve been able to have a number of training sessions before the game,” said Jones.

“Our boys have been prepared well by our excellent physical performance department.

“Our challenge as coaches is to be smart in how we manage the energy of the group.

“We still want to play a certain style but how we manage the team will be important.”

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