SOUTH Africa rookie Jan Serfontein is confident that his midfield partnership with JP Pietersen can thrive against their seasoned Welsh rivals, writes Chris Kirwan.

The 21-year-old Blue Bulls centre will make his first Test start against Wales in Durban and will join forces with Sharks winger Pietersen, whose 51 caps have all come in the back three.

Boks coach Heyneke Meyer has been forced to go with the exciting but inexperienced pairing because of injuries to captain Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh and Jaque Fourie and Frans Steyn's midweek withdrawal.

"JP's a good player and can adapt to outside centre quite easily," said Serfontein. "He's a guy that has pace and strength, which are important aspects if you want to do well in the midfield.

"I'm very comfortable at 12. So I don't expect any problems. JP's a senior guy and talks a lot of sense.

"That helps with things I can improve and I think he has the attributes for a great 13, I'm looking forward to the combination."

They will be up against Jamie Roberts and Jonathan Davies, who have joined forces 31 times for Wales and in the Lions' third Test hammering of the Australians last summer.

But Serfontein believes the Springboks can cope with the powerful Roberts and elusive Roberts, with influential fly-half Morne Steyn offering a helping hand.

"Jamie Roberts is a big centre, he's over 100 kilograms, so they're obviously going to use him to get front foot ball from the first phase," he said.

"But I think we're well prepared, we went through our defence this week and it went pretty well.

"Playing next to Morne, we played Super Rugby together (with the Bulls) last year, so we understand each other pretty well on defence and attack."