The preliminaries are over and British and Irish Lions head coach Ian McGeechan is on Monday bound to select a number of combinations which he regards as Test ‘probables’ for the match against the Sharks in Durban.
Sport 24 reports the Lions coach is in the fortunate position of being able to consider all the players in the squad, with the exception of flank Martyn Williams.
Riki Flutey, the England and Wasps centre, has recovered from his knee injury and will train with the team on Tuesday – and team doctor James Robson on Sunday said that he will be fit if selected for the Sharks match.
Flutey and replacement Gordon D’Arcy are the only squad members not to have started a match.
Robson on Sunday said it looked as though the London Wasps and England centre could be on his way home after injuring his knee in the opening game against the Royal XV after coming on as a replacement.
“If you went back to 1997, then Riki would have been on his way home. I really thought he was going to be the first player to leave the tour,” said Robson.
“But he has been setting his alarm to wake himself up every two hours in the night to administer cold therapy on his knee. That’s on top of the work he is doing with the physios throughout the day.” Robson said he was very impressed with the ethos of the players and the work they put in to recover from injury.
McGeechan is bound to start fielding some combinations against the Sharks that he has in mind for the first test. There simply is not enough time – or matches – for him to select the entire probable Test squad for a run before the first Test.
The loose forward combination could still be a problem and McGeechan is bound to try another trio after they came off second best against the Free State Cheetahs despite hitting the rucks hard.
Heinrich Brussow, however, won’t be in the Springbok side for the Test matches and without a fetcher to confront his tall forwards, McGeechan will probably not be as concerned as he would otherwise have been.
Meanwhile, the Sharks will field an inexperienced backline with more experience up front where Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Steven Sykes, Johan Muller and Jannie du Plessis are expected to be selected.
In the absence of 10 players who are in the Springbok squad, there will be a number of new and young faces in the backline, and as Sharks assistant coach Grant Bashford said on the Sharks website, the match against the Lions is not only an occasion and experience for the players, but also the opportunity to see how the back-up players perform with a view to the Currie Cup which starts on July 10.Tweet