The Lions tour is about to get very interesting.
The British and Irish Lions’ mid-week game against South Africa ‘A’ may as well be called a test match with the Springboks after the hosts revealed their line-up.
It’s fair to say that the Lions tour hasn’t been all that interesting so far as the tourists have been far too strong for their opposition in the opening three games on South African soil, but that is about to change.
Warren Gatland’s side were scheduled to play against the players on the fringe of the Springboks’ squad on Wednesday, but the team that has been announced is pretty close to a full-strength side.
— Springboks (@Springboks) July 12, 2021
Covid issues forced the hand of the South African selectors.
In total, nine Springboks who played in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final against England have been named to start for South Africa ‘A’ on Wednesday, in what now promises to be a titanic clash in Cape Town.
While the game was originally meant to give some up-and-coming players a chance against the Lions, just one uncapped player – Joseph Dweba – will start for South Africa ‘A’.
The Springbok’s coaching staff have presumably gone with such a strong line-up for Wednesday’s games as a result of the problems covid has created within their squad.
A number of Springboks’ have tested positive for covid over the last week or so – including captain Siya Kolisi – which has given the coaching staff limited options for this game.
TEAM NEWS 🦁
Here is our #LionsRugby team to face South Africa ‘A’ on Wednesday 💪
— British & Irish Lions (@lionsofficial) July 12, 2021
Also, many of the senior Springboks players that will feature on Wednesday have played very little rugby in recent times, after the second test match against Georgia was called off due to covid cases in both camps.
Although a number of players are unavailable for the game due to injury or covid-related reasons, it is interesting to note that 10 players have been named on the South Africa ‘A’ bench, although that will be trimmed down to eight at a later time.
While essentially playing four test matches against the Springboks was not on Gatland’s itinerary, the Lions head coach may be happy for his squad to get a tough challenge after three one-sided encounters in South Africa.
The Lions’ line-up for Wednesday also features a number of players who will likely start in the test series against the Springboks, as tour captain Conor Murray will skipper the side for the first time.
Check out the South Africa ‘A’ team selected to play the Lions below.
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
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