DURBAN - One of the biggest debates ahead of the tour of the British and Irish Lions is which team will be better prepared come the big Test series kick-off on July 24 … the Boks or the Lions?
The individuals in the Lions squad have played plenty of Test rugby for their countries but the Lions are a new collective, while the Boks are a settled team but have not played an international since the World Cup final.
Springbok assistant coach Mzwandile Stick is not interested in the debate — he says the Boks will be fine come the first Test following a two-Test series against Georgia and an extensive training camp.
“The last time we played was in 2019, but the last time the British & Irish Lions played as a team was in 2017,” Stick said. “We can't say we are at a disadvantage at the moment.
“The good thing is that if you look at the core of our squad, we have had players overseas … they've been playing week in and week out and we're talking about tough, physical conditions,” Stick continued.
“Some of our players have been in France, we had about five in Japan and if you look at all those players, they have each had between eight and 10 games in the last couple of months.
“We are in a good position and our local guys like Lukhanyo (Am), Ox (Nche) and Siya (Kolisi) are all up to speed in that they have also been playing week in and week out.
“We are in a good space, and in any case nobody is interested in listening to our excuses,” Stick said.
“As a squad, we have been doing very well with our alignment camps and we have been able to put our systems in place with who we have here in Bloemfontein. There are no excuses. We are excited and looking forward to this challenge.”
Stick was speaking at an online press conference that also included Am. The Sharks captain said he had been impressed with fellow centre and new kid on the block Wandisile Simelane.
“Wandi is a very talented player, we've seen it in Super Rugby and the Rainbow Cup. It's exciting what he can do, and he really backs himself,” Am said.
“We're looking to work together as outside backs, and as a group, we try to feed off each other.
“That's something we're doing on attack or defence. It's about all of us trying to improve and aiming to reach our top level.”