VIDEO: Radical alternative if Bulls and Bok games are called off
REACTION: The British and Irish Lions are happy to accept Georgia as opposition, should the third-wave COVID-19 surge force the cancellation of matches.
The prospects of games being called off were raised on Tuesday, after both the South African and Georgian camps cancelled their planned media briefings.
The two camps were scheduled to reveal their teams for Friday’s second Test at Ellis Park.
“The team suspended their training programme for Monday and placed the squad in preventative isolation prior to further PCR testing and a review by the Medical Advisory Group,” a statement from the Springbok camp said.
“The entire team and management had PCR tests on Tuesday morning, and will remain in isolation until the results and subsequent recommendations are received from MAG.”
On Monday the team, via a media release, revealed that lock Lodewyk de Jager returned a positive outcome in scheduled testing.
“Because of his close contact with a number of squad members, the entire group has gone into isolation,” the statement said.
In another development, it was reported that Saturday’s tour match between the Bulls and the B&I Lions at Loftus was also in doubt – following positive COVID-19 testing from within the Bulls camp.
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These events dominated the questions when B&I Lions defence coach Steve Tandy fronted up to the media on Tuesday.
Among the proposals put to the Tandy was the suggestion that all the games be moved to Cape Town and that Georgia should step in as a replacement should the Bulls pull out.
Tandy said the team’s focus has been on their second tour match, against the Sharks on Wednesday, and trying top avoid outside ‘distractions’ disrupting the camp.
He added that they are “constantly” being reminded of how careful they need to be, not to place the tour in jeopardy.
“We are being tested three, four times a week,” Tandy said, adding: “Everything is being sanitised and everyone is on their best behaviour.
“No one wants top to jeopardise this tour in any shape or form.”
However, they are open to alternatives and will remain flexible.
“If we have to move to Cape Town, we will deal with that,” the defence guru told a virtual media briefing.
“If we have to come back to Johannesburg [for the second and third Tests] we will be fully prepared for that.”
He was asked if they are open to playing against Georgia, should the worst fears be realised and their match against the Bulls was cancelled and the SA v Georgia game is also called off.
“We are really talking hypotheticals, but anything is possible with COVID,” Tandy said.
“If there is an opportunity, if a game is called off, to play a game, then that would be great for us and for whoever else is looking for a game,” he added.
He said nothing has been confirmed, but there has been “informal” chats.
“We will travel down to Cape Town over the weekend, so we could probably give [the players] an extra day off – potentially maybe train a little bit harder on Friday.
“However, that would be something that we would firm up when we get confirmation around what will happen.”
He said all the rumours have not impacted the mood in the camp.
“The boys trained well this [Tuesday] morning and it’s just about gearing up for tomorrow [Wednesday, against the Sharks].
“The focus is on us getting better and improving and building on the last couple of performances.”