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Wales vs South Africa: Three key head-to-heads

Wales take on reigning World Champions South Africa at a packed-out Twickenham, and Warren Gatland has opted to test some new combinations. 

Breakthrough star of the Six Nations Cameron Winnett starts at fullback, with Rio Dyer and the returning Liam Williams named on the wings. Owen Watkin and Mason Grady combine in midfield.

Sam Costelow and Ellis Bevan start in the halves.

Up front, Keiron Assiratti is a late change for Henry Thomas, and he comes in alongside Gareth Thomas and Dewi Lake in the front-row. Matthew Screech joins Ben Carter in the second-row.

Taine Plumtree, James Botham and Aaron Wainwright complete the starting pack.

For the Springboks, Aphelele Fassi starts at fullback, with Edwill van der Merwe and Makazole Mapimpi named on the wings. Jesse Kriel and Andre Esterhuizen reignite their dominate centre combination at 12 and 13.

Faf de Klerk starts at scrum-half, and Jordan Hendrikse starts at 10.

Props Ox Nche and Vintcent Koch start alongside Malcom Marx in the front-row. Eben Etzebeth partners with Franco Mostert in the second-row.

Kwagga Smith and Evan Roos join skipper Pieter-Steph du Toit in the back-row.

But with so many talented players across the park, who will swing the game towards their team? With that in mind, here are three key head-to-heads to watch out for this weekend.

Wales vs South Africa: Three key head-to-heads

Gareth Thomas vs Ox Nche

South Africa’s game revolves around the power of their scrum, and whilst they might not be facing each other directly in the scrum this battle at loosehead will be crucial to the outcome.

Ox Nche is quickly becoming the best scrummaging prop in the world, but Gareth Thomas is decent in his own right too, and will need to have the same sort of impact as his opposite number.

If Wales can match South Africa in the scrum, it could really limit their gameplan.

Rio Dyer vs Makazole Mapimpi

Two genuine X-factor players facing off, what more could you ask for. Rio Dyer proved in the Six Nations he can be a brilliant attacking winger, and with his pace can really cause elite defences problems.

READ MORE: Former rugby league ace Regan Grace drafted into Wales squad

He can also put a shift in on the other end too. Whilst he is showing he can be a top international talent, his opposite number Makazole Mapimpi has already walked the walk in the Green and Gold.

Mapimpi is one of the game’s top wingers, and will give Dyer a real run for his money on Saturday with his usual attacking brilliance.

Sam Costelow vs Jordan Hendrikse

The battle at fly-half is always important, but these two will be wanting to prove a point on Saturday. Costelow was thrust into the limelight during the Six Nations, but was arguably outdone by the other 10s around him.

When he’s on top form, he is a top quality fly-half (as proved in the pre-World Cup friendlies against England), and he will need to be on his A-game against the Boks.

His opposite number, Hendrikse, also has some pressure on his shoulders too. Deputising for Handre Pollard on his test debut, he has a brilliant opportunity to show he is the man to carry the Boks forward.

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