South Africa A versus British and Irish Lions - Teams and Predictions
THE FOURTH TEST: Wednesday’s fixture against Britsh and Irish Lions might be regarded as the fourth unofficial test.
However, for South Africa, it’s another chance to unite the Rainbow Nation.
In the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, violent riots and looting of malls and businesses mainly in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa A sit with a massive task in spreading hope and unity.
Speaking to reporters via a virtual media briefing, Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick revealed that their social obligations as Springboks is a major motivator for Wednesday’s clash.
Stick spoke of how he witnessed the country unite during their trophy tour through South Africa – in the wake of their victorious World Cup campaign in 2019.
“From what we have seen on social media and television we are living in very sad times – one of the main reasons we live for the Springboks is to put smiles on peoples’ faces,” said Stick.
“I will never forget the images of how everyone came together after the World Cup final and that is the type of hope we want to build.
“If we can build unity by playing in this Lions Series, it would be fantastic for us as a team.”
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The ‘A’ team
Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber has selected 18 World Cup winners in the squad for the showdown on Wednesday in what will be the 2021 tourists’ first match in Cape Town.
Lukhanyo Am captains a South Africa A outfit that includes Faf de Klerk, Cheslin Kolbe and Pieter-Steph du Toit as the Springboks look get up to speed after their second warm-up Test against Georgia was cancelled due to COVID-19 outbreaks in both camps.
“It is important for us to improve on our performance against Georgia in this match,” Stick said.
“There are boxes we want to tick, for example starting the match better, and delivering an 80-minute performance.
“This is a physical British & Irish Lions team and we know if we give them a sniff, they will punish us, so it is vital that we pitch up from the first minute.”
He added: “If you look at their game, they are a well-balanced and physical side, and they have players with an X-factor and some dangerous outside backs, so we cannot point out many weaknesses.
“Their players are the best of the best in each position, so we have to be sharp in every department on the day. We have to pitch up from start to finish.”
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Good test for Gatland
Warren Gatland could not be happier with the star-studded South Africa A team named to take on his British & Irish Lions side as he looks to learn from their 2009 series defeat.
“We’ve seen the team that they’ve announced, and it looks pretty strong. They’ve probably gone with as strong a team as they possibly can given that they still have players unavailable,” he said.
“It’s going to be a good test for us. I spoke to some of the players, some of the forwards about making the most of their opportunities now all the players will have had a couple of games.
“We’ve reiterated how close some of these selections are going to be and there’s going to be some fine margins, it’s about going out there giving your best and making the most of it.
“I probably wasn’t expecting them to be as strong as they are, they are obviously short of games, but I’m absolutely delighted with the team they have put out.
“That helps our preparation immensely so we’ll kind of get a feel of where we are and what things we need to work on in the ten days leading into the first Test match.
“I’m really pleased with how strong that team is. Even though it’s a South African A game it’s going to be a tough challenge and everything is about winning the Test series.
“I keep referring back to 2009 when we had the first Test, we had played other teams that were under strength in terms of not having the Springboks and we weren’t quite ready.
“We thought we were better prepared than we were so that’s in the back of my mind and the fact I’ve seen that side, it will give a good indication of where both teams are.”
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Players to watch:
For South Africa A: There are certainly stars all around the park. Lukhanyo Am’s captaincy will be under the microscope in the absence of regular captain Siya Kolisi. Jasper Wiese, who made his Test debut against Georgia, has major shoes to fill in the absence of Duane Vermeulen. Uncapped Joseph Dweba is another player who will want to put in a big shift.
For Britsh and Irish Lions: Tour captain Conor Murray is named skipper of a starting XV. Centre Bundee Aki in the midfield can caused any defence a headache. England Maro Itoje is a hard worker in the pack. While Tom Curry is another player who adds intensity to the squad.
Head to Head: Individual battle will not be scarce. The halfback back between SA A’s Morné Steyn and Faf de Klerk and B&I Lions’ Dan Biggar and Conor Murray will be one to look out for. SA A wing Cheslin Kolbe will go up against B&I Lions rising star Josh Adams. In the pack, the second row is the clash of the titans as Maro Itoje face Eben Etzebeth.
@rugby365com: South Africa A by five points
South Africa A: 15 Willie le Roux, 14 Cheslin Kolbe, 13 Lukhanyo Am (captain), 12 Damian de Allende, 11 Sbu Nkosi, 10 Morné Steyn, 9 Faf de Klerk, 8 Jasper Wiese, 7 Pieter-Steph du Toit, 6 Marco van Staden, 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Trevor Nyakane, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Steven Kitshoff
Replacements (from): 16 Malcolm Marx, 17 Coenie Oosthuizen, 18 Vincent Koch, 19 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 20 Rynhardt Elstadt, 21 Herschel Jantjies, 22 Jesse Kriel, 23 Damian Willemse, 24 Kwagga Smith, 25 Elton Jantjies
British and Irish Lions: 15 Anthony Watson, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Bundee Aki, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Conor Murray (captain), 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Iain Henderson, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Tadhg Beirne, 21 Sam Simmonds, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Elliot Daly.
Date: Wednesday, July 14
Venue: Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
Kick-off: 20.00 (19.00 BST; 18.00 GMT)
Expected weather: It’s cold and partly cloudy. Fortunately, no showers are expected. A high of 14°C and a low of 5°C
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Marius van der Westhuizen (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Source: SA Rugby & B&I Lions