Rassie reveals Bok 'training plans' for the weekend
It is official. The Bulls will be the opposition for South Africa’s final ‘practice run’ ahead of the British and Irish Lions Test series – starting next Saturday, July 24.
SA’s Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus said they have two options for Saturday – the Bulls and possibly the B&I Lions as a backup – depending on the impact of COVID-19.
“At this stage, we are going to play the Bulls,” he said, adding that the Bulls had gone into isolation as a ‘back-up’ for the Springboks.
Speaking during a virtual media briefing after the SA ‘A’ team beat the B&I Lions 17-13 in a midweek match in Cape Town, Erasmus said if there is another COVID outbreak, they are keeping open the option of playing the B&I Lions again.
“If everything goes according to plan, we will play the Bulls and they [the B&I Lions] will play the Stormers on Saturday,” Erasmus said.
The SA Director of Rugby said the team will be mixed up for Saturday to give a run to players who need the game time.
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He added that fullback Willie le Roux has a bit of a ‘sore’ hamstring, while No.8 Jasper Wiese suffered an ankle injury – the only players in the team that are ‘injury concerns’.
Pieter-Steph du Toit left the field for a Head Injury Assessment and did not return, but Erasmus played it down and said he passed the HIA test and they kept him off as a precaution.
“The real Test is only in 10 days,”he said of the July 24 series opener.
No.8 Duane Vermeulen, currently busy with his rehabilitation after ankle surgery, is “touch and go” for the second and third Tests – but won’t feature in next week’s series opener.
“He is definitely in our plans,” Erasmus said, adding: “It is not a definite that he will play.
“There is a good possibility, but we are not banking on that [Vermeulen being available].”
The SA ‘A’ team handed the B&I Lions their first defeat of the eight-match tour.
Trailing by 14 points at half-time (3-17), the tourists scored 10 unanswered points in the second half.
Before the kick-off, Lions captain and scrumhalf Conor Murray labelled it the “fourth Test” – given the strength of the SA ‘A’ team.
His assessment was spot on as the Lions, who had earlier scored 27 tries in three runaway victories over weak franchise sides, suddenly came up against strong opposition.
Murray said: “It was a different level. We learnt a lot of things. We can be proud of ourselves, especially in the second half.
“It was really, really physical and it’s something we are going to benefit from. We have not come up against that level of physicality on the tour.
“We know the Boks are going to be really physical. The breakdowns are going to be a massive deciding factor in the Test series.
South Africa A captain and centre Lukhanyo Am said: “We can be very proud of ourselves. It was a good outing. We did a lot of good stuff and there was also stuff that did not go our way.
“We will be able to judge and analyse where we need to improve in the days ahead. We are really excited to be back in the midst of things and we will go back to the drawing board to see where we can improve.”
* Additional reporting by AFP