Wales captain Sam Warburton has played down the appointment of Irishman Alain Rolland to referee Saturday's Millennium Stadium showdown against South Africa.

Rolland sent off Warburton during the 2011 World Cup semi-final against France in Auckland.

It meant Wales played for more than hour with 14 men after Warburton was dismissed following a dangerous tackle on Les Bleus wing Vincent Clerc. They lost 9-8.

Rolland, who was subsequently vilified by sections of the Welsh public, has not refereed a Wales Test match involving Warburton in Cardiff since that tournament.

"I have barely spoken to Alain since the incident and have certainly never spoken to him about it," Warburton said.

"I joke about it now saying it was a PR stunt because nobody knew about me then.

"I only realised he was refereeing yesterday. I don't think it will have any bearing on how I work with the referee.

"I met him in the Italy match in the last Six Nations and we said hello. It feels like such a long time ago, I've forgotten about it until somebody brings it up.

"I look back at the tackle and think my head was on the wrong side. I used to go in a bit higher, but my tackle technique has changed now and I go in much lower, so that will never happen again.

"I look back at the tackle and think my head was on the wrong side. I used to go in a bit higher, but my tackle technique has changed now and I go in much lower, so that will never happen again.

"It (red card) still comes up in conversation with me. I might be shopping around Sainsbury's, but two years later people will shout from another aisle 'it was never a red card'.

"Whether I am doing a question and answer session when I'm 60, somebody will ask me about it."

Warburton will lead a side against the Springboks that features one new cap - 21-year-old Ospreys wing Eli Walker - and nine of the British and Irish Lions third Test team responsible for demolishing Australia 41-16 in Sydney four months ago.

Walker fills the vacancy created by Alex Cuthbert, who is nursing an ankle injury, while centre Scott Williams partners his Scarlets colleague Jonathan Davies in midfield, with Jamie Roberts (ankle) sidelined.

There is also a return for fly-half Rhys Priestland after he missed last season's entire title-winning RBS 6 Nations campaign due to an Achilles tendon injury, and Cardiff Blues lock Bradley Davies has won coach Warren Gatland's vote to form the second-row pairing with Alun-Wyn Jones.

Flanker Dan Lydiate, meanwhile, makes his first Wales appearance since the summer of 2012 following a serious ankle injury, with prop Gethin Jenkins winning his 99th cap.

Walker, regarded as one of the deadliest finishers in the RaboDirect PRO12 competition, suffered a back injury last season that dashed any hope of him featuring in the Six Nations or Wales' subsequent two-Test summer tour of Japan.

"I am really excited for Eli," Warburton added. "For the last few seasons he has been immense. Give him a bit of space and he will score.

"We threw George North and Leigh Halfpenny in at the deep end (for their Test debuts) and they reacted to it really well."

Wales have only beaten one of the southern hemisphere giants - South Africa, New Zealand or Australia - since Gatland took charge, and that Wallabies scalp was claimed five years ago.

And Warburton knows it is a record that needs to be urgently addressed as Wales prepare to face South Africa for the first time since suffering a 17-16 World Cup defeat against them two years ago.

"When England beat New Zealand last season and Australia a few days ago, I was delighted," he said.

"We have a good record against England and a poor one against the other teams. Even though we don't want to admit it, it might be psychological.

"If we do win (on Saturday), there won't be massive celebrations because we feel that is the level we are at now.

"We want a scalp in a Welsh shirt now. To win the series for the Lions was immense. We will take massive confidence from that, but until we beat one of these (southern hemisphere) sides we can't call ourselves contenders for the World Cup."