Lions have not watched Erasmus ‘sideshow’, says coach McBryde

Robin McBryde said on Friday that neither he nor the other British & Irish Lions coaches had watched a video in which Springbok boss Rassie Erasmus slams refereeing in the first Test.

“That is just a sideshow,” said the scrums coach during an online news conference on the eve of the second Test against world champions South Africa, with the Lions leading the three-match series 1-0.

McBryde said the tourists had complete faith in New Zealand referee Ben O’Keeffe, who will handle the potential series decider at an empty Cape Town Stadium because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Welsh coach does not believe O’Keeffe, assistants Nic Berry from Australia and Mathieu Raynal from France and South African TMO Marius Jonker will be affected by the Erasmus video.

First, Test referee Berry was severely criticised by Erasmus and sections of the South African media blamed Jonker for a disallowed Springbok try and Lions’ Hamish Watson not being punished for a dangerous tackle.

“Ben is professional enough. We are all professional enough. If I was on social media looking for things, I could find them,” said McBryde.

“I am not on social media, it’s a different world to me. It’s just that it has been highlighted this week and brought to everybody’s attention so we know it’s there.

“As Ben said, we are aware there is a lot of stuff out there on social media, but that is not going to affect anything.

“Everyone realises they [match officials] are in a tough place. They have got a tough job to do. But we were really happy with Nic last Saturday and I do not think it will be any different this weekend.

“Regarding Ben, we have no issues. He is a top man and we are looking forward to working with him on Saturday.

“We were not surprised by anything last Saturday from Nic and we had a good conversation with the referees yesterday.”

Turning to flyhalf Dan Biggar, who suffered a concussion during the second half last Saturday, McBryde said the Wales playmaker had came through the return-to-play processes.

“Dan will complete his graduated return to play today with his final contact training session ahead of the match on Saturday.

“He has been symptom free since his post-match head injury assessment and remained symptom free throughout the process.”

Biggar will have a new halfback partner in the starting lineup with Conor Murray replacing Ali Price, who is on the bench.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack