While the British and Irish Lions continued to increase their intensity at match time and to concentrate on getting the basics right, the Springboks only had their first full training session on Wednesday before the first Test on June 20.
Sport 24 reports that it has been learnt, that two 40-minute matches against the Emerging Springboks was part of the cram towards match fitness planned by Springboks head coach Peter de Villiers – but being behind closed doors (or gates) there is no way of knowing whether it took place or are still to be played.
The Super 14 competition, the fact that the Bulls reached the final and that their fatigued players were given last week off, did not help in the preparation of the Bok side.
Although it wouldn’t have been the real thing, match practice for a number of the Boks is paramount. And Lions forwards coach Warren Gatland has said that he probably would’ve given some of them a run against the Lions in the provincial matches.
“I think some of the Boks would have benefited from being in some of the provincial games because players in the past in New Zealand who have played provincial or Maori teams before the Tests have had a little bit of an insight when it comes to Test time.”
He said the Lions thought they might catch the Boks a little underdone.
“That’s traditionally what’s happened on the old-fashioned tours, that the touring sides had a few games under their belt and the home side were a little bit rusty for the first Test.
“It was the same for us in the first game of the tour against the Royal XV. We had players who hadn’t played for four or five weeks and struggled. Even though they had done gym and were training pretty hard, you still need game time.”
Two weeks ago De Villiers referred to this problem. .”When we went to the UK after the Currie Cup last year, in which all the guys played for their home unions, the synergy was not there in the first game.”
While Sharks and 2007 Springbok captain Johann Muller on Wednesday said that the Springboks will have to prepare “smartly” in the remaining time available as this is, as he put it, a “very, very good Lions team,” De Villiers admitted that he would have liked more time to prepare for the series – and added that it had not been possible because of time constraints.
The Boks, judging by a remark from De Villiers, will have the first 20 minutes of the first Test to gel after having last played together on the year-end UK tour.
“We have the first 20 minutes of the first Test, thereafter there can be no excuses,” De Villiers said.
Jaque Fourie, if he is selected for the first Test, will have his first run onto a field in exactly ten weeks since being injured in New Zealand in the Super 14 competition. He did not play in the Lions last five Super 14 matches.
Ruan Pienaar, by the time the first Test comes along on June 20, will have played one match and 119 minutes since his injury against the Reds in Australia.
Jean de Villiers has also not seen action since the Stormers tour of Australasia and the same goes for Stormers team mate Schalk Burger. Frans Steyn and Andries Bekker have been laid low for shorter period, but will also not get any game time before the Tests arrive.
Deon Carstens at least had a good run against the Lions on Wednesday and played well but does not seem fully fit yet.
Add to that the fact that the Bulls, after winning the Super 14 final, were given last week off, and it seems certain that the Boks will be a little “underdone” in respect of game time in the case of some.Tweet