VIDEO: Euro-based Boks dissect B&I Lions game plan
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wednesday’s match between South Africa A and British and Irish Lions is certainly a preview of the ‘official’ Test series.
Following the SA A team announcement, B&I Lions captain Conor Murray labelled the match as the ‘fourth Test’.
Springboks duo Cheslin Kolbe and Francois de Klerk were both been named in the star-studded ‘A’ side to face the B&I Lions at the Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday.
The pair form part of the side which features nine men who played in the Springboks’ 2019 World Cup Final victory cover England.
The fixture between the SA ‘A’ and the visitors was originally meant to give fringe players a chance to claim a Springbok spot.
However, given the COVID-19 crisis, SA Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus and coach Jacques Nienaber opted to use this match to give valuable game time to senior Springboks.
The SA ‘A’ team only has one uncapped player in the form of Joseph Dweba.
Erasmus made no secret that the Springboks management would be keen to add another SA ‘A’ versus B&I Lions match on Saturday – providing the underdone Springboks with more game time.
That idea has been shut down by Lions boss Warren Gatland – handing the Springboks camp a huge concern regarding the match fitness.
When asked about the Springboks’ mental and physical sharpness for the first test against the B&I Lions on July 24, De Klerk was confident that the Springboks would be fully prepared.
“I can’t comment on who we are going to play or where we going to play, I can just try to prepare for what we are told,” De Klerk told reporters during Monday’s media briefing.
“If we need to play on Wednesday, we prepare for Wednesday, if we play the B&I Lions on Saturday again, we will do that and if we play a different side we will do that – it’s not up to us
“I think we are mentality well prepared for Wednesday and the physicality side is part of the nature of our team and the Boks don’t mind a physical battle.
He added: “Even if they haven’t played in a year or they have played every week, they are always up for it and I think they will even be hungrier for it,”
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Unpredictable game plan
De Klerk, who returned from a successful Premiership season with Sale Sharks, will go up against veteran Murray.
The Ireland star has been named captain of the British and Irish Lions and could be the starting scrumhalf for the first test match against Springboks.
“Murray has played a lot of test matches and has a couple of Lions series behind, so having that type of guy in a team is great.
“However, Warren Gatland can change his backline anyway he wants. He can play Farrell at No.12 or No.10, do changes in the midfield which can change the way they want to play.
“Obviously playing Murray with a good kicking game which will be important for the games going forward.
“However I think they have a ray of players in the backline that can pretty much change the whole dynamic of how they want to play, so there is certainly a bigger challenge than just Conor,”
Being a dynamic player himself, Kolbe admitted they are good, but playing against them in Europe has given him a slight advantage.
“They are a very well-balanced team, a mixture of big boys and backline players that are willing to run with the ball,” Kolbe said.
“It’s guys that I’ve competed against in Europe, so I have a little input on what they can do.
“In general they are an amazing group and for us, it is just another challenge,”