“Personally, I can’t see it being finished out.”
Stephen Ferris believes the British and Irish Lions’ series with South Africa is in danger of losing its credibility as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc on the tour.
The Lions put out a much-changed match-day squad against the Sharks on Wednesday, which featured just one back in the replacements after nine players were sent into self-isolation.
Ferris was speaking to RugbyPass about the tour’s current difficulties and expressed his view that if a similar situation arises where one side doesn’t have access to all their players during the test series, the games would lose credibility.
Stephen Ferris on the Covid-hit Lions tour.
“Personally, I can’t see it being finished out. I think [on Wednesday] night watching the Lions and Finn Russell was the only back on the bench,” Ferris started.
“I was going ‘Imagine this test side running out against South Africa and they didn’t have any Covid-19 cases and they were full strength.’ It would just be unfair on the players I think.
I’d love nothing more than this tour to be finished out. However, the last few days have shown us all that it’s not going to be easy. https://t.co/536v4N65ek
— Stephen Ferris (@StephenFerris6) July 8, 2021
“It’s starting to look a bit unfair on some of the players, especially from the fans. That’s where I turn it back to the credibility and you definitely don’t want to lose that.
“Anyone who’s watched the Lions over the last couple of decades knows what it means to play for the Lions and support the Lions. That credibility could very well be lost if this tour doesn’t go ahead.”
Gatland hopes to welcome back self-isolating Lions players.
The much-changed Lions side that faced the Sharks on Wednesday certainly didn’t struggle to cope with the loss of several players as the tourists ran out as 47-point winners.
The Lions will play the Sharks for a second time on Saturday, in place of the Bulls who were unable to fulfil the fixture due to Covid-19 cases in their squad, where Warren Gatland will hope to put out a very different side to the one that played on Wednesday.
The unnamed Lions player who tested positive on Wednesday reportedly tested negative on Thursday, which means that he and his close contacts will be free to play on Saturday if he tests negative for a second time.
A number of Lions players are in need of a rest, especially the likes of Josh Adams, who has played every minute of the touring side’s three games so far.