June International Tours

Emerging Boks plan to add more pain for Lions

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Both the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions have some injury problems ahead of the Lions’ last tour match outside of the Tests against the Emerging Springboks at Newlands on Tuesday.


The Lions are hoping that fullback Lee Byrne would be fit for Saturday but were not prepared to risk him for the Emerging Boks game.


The Springboks were similarly buoyed by the news on Fourie du Preez, possibly the best scrumhalf in the world, in that he is expected to be fit for the Test.


“Fourie will be fine to play even though the team management were worried about the knock to his shoulder,” said the Boks team doctor Craig Edwards on Monday.


He added that replacement prop Deon Carstens was taken off as a precautionary measure and that Schalk Burger, who was not considered for the first Test, was coming along well.


Meanwhile Lions coach Ian McGeechan has announced a side that will have a number of players who will hope to make enough of an impression to be selected for the second test side to play South Africa at Loftus on Saturday.


McGeechan said he doesn’t see this last midweek game, less than four days before the Test, as an irritant.


“That’s part of a Lions tour. It’s quite important (the match) to give some players game time with a view to the Test on Saturday.”


He added that they didn’t know what to expect of the Emerging Springboks, although they knew their players well.


Only seven of the squad of 22 have not played against the Lions on this tour.


The Emerging Boks can expect a tremendous onslaught from the tourists, who want to prevent a second successive loss.


“We’re not picking the team before Wednesday.” said McGeechan.


“At the practice Monday morning it was quite clear that the players want to put themselves into the front line for selection, which from a coaching point of view is ideal.”


“It’s always important to come back well (after defeat) and it is a big challenge for players who have an opportunity tomorrow (Tuesday) night.


“Phil Vickery is there and no doubt will play a part in proceedings tomorrow night,” McGeechan responded to a question whether the veteran, mauled by Beast Mtawarira in the first Test, would have a run on Tuesday.


The match will be of particular interest because of the young talent that Emerging Bok coach Dick Muir (pictured) describes as a” system channel where the guys come through and end up being Springboks”, so individually the players have a lot to prove. And there’s no challenge bigger than playing against the Lions.


“There is a challenge for all the players in the match,” Muir said.


“We are blessed with the amount of depth we have in South African rugby and the group of players assembled here proves that.


We are wary of the fact that the Lions will be looking to bounce back after their defeat in the first Test, but I’m confident that we’ll be competitive”


“We’re working (to win) with the added bonus to make it two in a row,” said Muir, who is also assistant coach of the Springboks, in reference to the first Test loss of the Lions.


And the tourists can prepare them for a good forward battle where the wet field will further put a hamper on expansive play.


It will be a great test for flyhalf Earl Rose, who is under tremendous pressure after what many believe is a premature call-up to the Springbok squad.


“It’s good to see him in a different environment where he is one of the senior players. The Bok side (for the second Test) has not been chosen and (this match) is an opportunity for him,” said Muir in response to a question about the player.

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