Bulls to face SA A side to give Springboks more game time ahead of Lions Tests
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CAPE TOWN - The Bulls are travelling down from Pretoria and will face a South Africa A side at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday to help the Springboks prepare for the Test series against the British and Irish Lions.
SA Rugby’s director of rugby, Rassie Erasmus, said on Monday during an online press briefing that the governing body was trying to organise another match for the Bok squad this weekend, following Wednesday night’s SA A-Lions clash at Cape Town Stadium (8pm kickoff).
“We are trying really hard to confirm another game on Saturday. I don’t think our situation is so much to do with gelling at this stage – I think it’s match fitness that’s our problem because if you do get Covid, you need time to fully recover. So, our match fitness, in terms of when some guys last played, is a bit of a worry,” Erasmus said on Monday.
“We want to ask for another SA ‘A’ game because for me… and it’s my view, that it would be the safest option. We’ve all tested negative two days in a row now, we’re in a hard bubble in Cape Town and no one is moving anywhere. The staff and everyone is negative, and it’s the same in the Lions camp.
“My honest opinion is that to play a franchise team, or even if we had to try and play against a side coming in, then I think the chances of infection are as good as we saw when we played against Georgia. Up until the Georgia Test, we had only one positive case.
“However, after the Georgia match, we had eight management (members) who tested positive. I’m not pointing fingers at Georgia, but I think as soon as you bring teams from the outside in, it becomes a very tough situation to control. We saw that as well when the overseas-based players came into our camp, and although there were some false positives, that’s when we got infections. It wasn’t when we were staying in our bubble.
“After we played Georgia all our infections started, so in my opinion if the SA ‘A’ team can play on Wednesday, and then another on Saturday, I think it would be best medically and in terms of player welfare, and also for the people watching to have two really good match-ups between the two teams.”
So, Erasmus was hoping that the Lions would agree to face SA A again on Saturday instead of their scheduled match against Western Province, but it appears as if the tourists have opted not to accede to that request.
IOL Sport understands that SA Rugby were left with little option but to bring in the Bulls, and an official announcement will be made later on Tuesday.
Jake White’s team will now give the Bok squad members who are not featuring in Wednesday’s SA A game against the Lions some much-needed game time on Saturday.
It is expected that the Bulls will take on SA A in a ‘curtain-raiser’ to the WP-Lions match on Saturday afternoon at Cape Town Stadium, with the kickoff time to be confirmed.
Organising such a fixture might come just in time for the likes of captain Siya Kolisi, Handre Pollard, Makazole Mapimpi, Bongi Mbonambi, Frans Malherbe, Frans Steyn, Marvin Orie, Ox Nche, Dan du Preez and Scarra Ntubeni, who were not considered for the SA A-Lions game due to Covid-19 protocols.
Others who could do with more playing time on Saturday against the Bulls include Damian de Allende, Sbu Nkosi, Trevor Nyakane and Elton Jantjies.