Rassie Erasmus tries to bait British and Irish Lions into second SA ’A’ game
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CAPE TOWN - NORMALLY it is a lion that would stalk a springbok as prey, but now it seems the boot is on the other foot between the Springboks and British and Irish Lions.
Following South Africa A’s 17-13 win over the tourists at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday night, Rassie Erasmus tried to ‘lure’ the Lions into playing another warm-up game at the same venue on Saturday.
In fact, SA Rugby’s director of rugby – who doubled up as the head coach this week following Jacques Nienaber’s enforced Covid-19 isolation – tried to say that the Lions were running scared of playing such a strong combination again… in a joking manner.
Erasmus used the terms “scared” and “afraid” three times during Wednesday night’s online press conference in attempting to explain Lions head coach Warren Gatland’s well-documented opposition to a second SA A game.
As it stands, the Bulls are already in Cape Town, and will face the SA A combination on Saturday afternoon in a curtain-raiser to the Lions-Stormers match later.
“We’ve got two options on Saturday, depending on what Covid cases up. I know the Lions have the Stormers on Saturday, and we at this stage are going to play the Bulls. The Bulls went into quarantine for us as a back-up, and depending on whether there is any outbreak in the Bulls or the Stormers teams – if there are any positive cases there, the best thing for us would be to play the Lions again on Saturday,” Erasmus said.
“I’m not sure if people want to do that, but I think that will be the safest. But if everything goes according to plan, we will play the Bulls and they will play the Stormers on Saturday.
“We want to give the other guys a fair opportunity. We are a group of 46 who have trained their arses off, and some of them haven’t really got opportunities.
“I know Warren really well, and he is one of the guys I respect in world rugby. If he doesn’t want to play, it will definitely not be because they are afraid of us. Maybe their tour is planned around certain permutations and stuff. It will definitely not be because we are more physical than them.
“I know him really well… I am good friends with him. So, if he can’t play, and he won’t play, it will definitely not be because they are scared of us – that I can promise you.
“It will be more because they wanted to play certain games at certain stages. Both him and Jacques know how tough next week Saturday will be, so I don’t think he will be afraid – he probably has other plans, and other planning in his mind.”
Erasmus is keen to have another crack at the Lions in order to provide a proper hit-out for a number of players who were unavailable for Wednesday’s match. He mentioned Frans Malherbe, Bongi Mbonambi, Lood de Jager, Siya Kolisi, Handre Pollard, Makazole Mapimpi and Frans Steyn, while both RG Snyman and Duane Vermeulen may only be ready to play from the second or third Test.
Erasmus also wants Damian de Allende to get more game time after a solid display on Wednesday, as well as Herschel Jantjies, who had to help out at wing in the second half, ahead of next Saturday’s first Test at Cape Town Stadium.
“And then how we integrate the Covid cases guys, who are coming in from Joburg in dribs and drabs – some on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, as they are released from the Covid quarantine period. So, about 70 or 80 percent happy with the game time.”