CARDIFF, Wales (AP) — Record try-scorer Bryan Habana, Willie le Roux, and Pat Lambie have been dropped by South Africa, which will field its most inexperienced backline in 22 years against Wales on Saturday.
Three players will make their debut, and there's another new cap in the reserves.
A reaction from the Springboks was expected after they lost for the first time to Italy last weekend in Florence. They haven't won seven of their last eight matches since late August.
Seven changes were made to the starting lineup.
Meanwhile, captain Sam Warburton was ruled out by Wales after he suffered a pinched nerve in training on Tuesday, and replaced by Dan Lydiate at blindside flanker.
South Africa's new caps were Cheetahs flanker Uzair Cassiem, Bulls winger Jamba Ulengo, and Lions center Rohan Janse van Rensburg. The fourth, Sharks flanker Jean-Luc du Preez, was in the reserves.
Habana scored a try against Italy, his 67th, but made way for Ulengo. Le Roux was replaced at fullback by Johan Goosen, and center Damian de Allende was rotated out for Janse van Rensburg. New halves Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies take over from Rudy Paige and Lambie, who was on the bench. The backline has a combined 40 caps, the lowest since 1994.
Cassiem takes over from Willem Alberts, who was ruled out because of a neck injury.
Lourens Adriaanse was in at tighthead prop for Vincent Koch.
Coach Allister Coetzee said the changes were borne from injuries, rotation, and a need to build for next year.
"We have a less experienced team, but I want to see some energy and an improved performance," he said. "Our selection is also keeping in mind of the process and necessity to build towards 2019."
Warburton was the only change to the Wales side which edged Argentina 24-20 two weeks ago. Lydiate, the British Lion, will form a loose forward trio with Justin Tipuric and Ross Moriarty.
Prop Gethin Jenkins has the captain's armband again.
The reserves featured Jamie Roberts for the second test in the last three, No. 8 Taulupe Faletau back after less than an hour of competitive rugby in 12 weeks, and flyhalf Sam Davies, who kicked the winning dropped goal against Japan last weekend.
Faletau played his first match last Friday since a knee ligaments injury in early September, and gave a 55-minute shift for his Bath club.
"It's good to have Taulupe back in the squad, he will add a good impact from the bench," Howley said.
"We are delighted with Sam, he showed individual composure and accuracy last weekend, and he gets another opportunity on the bench, as he did against Australia (when he made his debut).
"There is the tinge of disappointment in terms of performance against Japan, and we want to put that right. Not only are we looking to win this weekend we want a performance to go with it."
Wales has beaten South Africa only twice in 110 years.