Rugby: Wales turn to teen starlet North

Teenage wing George North will make his Wales debut against South Africa at the Millennium Stadium tomorrow.

The 18-year-old Scarlets wing replaces Will Harries in one of three changes to the team that lost 25-16 to Australia last weekend.

Fullback Lee Byrne returns following a broken hand, allowing James Hook to move into midfield where he will partner Tom Shanklin.

Up front, flanker Martyn Williams - who won his 97th cap off the bench against the Wallabies - starts in place of Sam Warburton, ruled out with a calf injury.

South Africa have drafted Frans Steyn into midfield in one change to the starting side that beat Ireland last weekend. Steyn missed the 23-21 victory in Dublin after his French club, Racing-Metro, refused to release him for a match that fell outside the agreed IRB window for November internationals.

The 23-year-old has replaced Zane Kirchner, who drops to the bench.

"We pulled this team together at short notice for last week's test and they performed against Ireland, but we couldn't ignore the experience of Frans Steyn," said South Africa coach Peter de Villiers.

"He has only had two field training sessions with us to date so he is still slotting himself back in, but he has brought real enthusiasm to the squad and it's a pleasure to have him back with us."

Steyn is set to link up alongside Jean de Villiers after the former Munster centre trained on Tuesday despite concerns over an ongoing groin problem.

Meanwhile stand-in captain Victor Matfield, leading the side in place of injured skipper John Smit, is set to become South Africa's most-capped player when he runs out for his 103rd international appearance tomorrow, breaking the national record held jointly by Smit and Percy Montgomery.

Wales last weekend caused the Wallaby scrum to give up seven penalties.

And de Villiers said he expected Wales - who've beaten the Springboks only once - would fancy their chances against a South Africa side that lost five of its six matches in the Tri-Nations.

"They have been bitterly disappointed on a couple of recent occasions when they felt they could have beaten us and they'll be looking to put that right," said de Villiers of a match which will also serve as something of a rehearsal for the two teams' opening clash of next year's World Cup in New Zealand.

"They'll be hurting after losing to the Wallabies at the weekend and I'm sure they've targeted us as the soft target in their three matches against the Tri-Nations teams."

De Villiers admitted: "We've had a tough year, but we're only focusing on delivering another improved performance on Saturday and then the result should look after itself."

The loose forward position on the bench has still to be decided as the Springboks wait on the fitness of Willem Alberts (calf strain).

WALES v SOUTH AFRICA
Millennium Stadium, tomorrow

WALES
Lee Byrne
George North
Tom Shanklin
James Hook
Shane Williams
Stephen Jones
Mike Phillips
Jonathan Thomas
Martyn Williams
Dan Lydiate
Alun-Wyn Jones
Bradley Davies
Adam Jones
Matthew Rees (c)
Gethin Jenkins
Reserves: Huw Bennett, Paul James, Ryan Jones, Andy Powell, Richie Rees, Andrew Bishop, Chris Czekaj

SOUTH AFRICA
Gio Aplon
Bjorn Basson
Frans Steyn
Jean de Villiers
Bryan Habana
Morne Steyn
Ruan Pienaar
Pierre Spies
Juan Smith
Deon Stegmann
Victor Matfield (c)
Bakkies Botha
Jannie du Plessis
B du Plessis
Tendai Mtawarira
Reserves: Chiliboy Ralepelle, CJ van der Linde, Flip van der Merwe, Francois Hougaard, Zane Kirchner, Patrick Lambie

- AFP

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