Lions MD: Test series is paramount

British & Irish Lions managing director Ben Calveley says they have every intention of following the original tour schedule as closely as possible.

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The Lions were forced to make eight changes to their match-day 23 to face the Sharks on Wednesday night after one player and staff member tested positive for coronavirus. Following further PCR testing on Wednesday, eight Lions players and four members of staff had been placed in isolation at the team hotel.

This came shortly after the news that their match against the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday had been postponed due to positive tests within the Bulls camp.

The Lions are busy working with SA Rugby to organise a replacement match on Saturday, with rumours that they could potentially face the Pumas or even have a re-match against the Sharks.

Speaking to Sky Sports, Calveley said that despite all the outbreaks, they are still focused on completing the tour as originally scheduled.

“All the games are important, but the Test series is paramount. We’re here in South Africa and our intention is to get the games over the line in South Africa,” Calveley said before the team’s match against the Sharks.

“We play the match against the Sharks tonight [Wednesday], go on and deal with Saturday and then move to Cape Town on Sunday. At the moment there is no intention to deviate from that agreed schedule.

“We just very calmly work through the challenges as they present themselves. We take things one step at a time. The focus was to get the Sharks fixture on, which we did.

“We then turn our attention to the weekend and we know the Bulls can’t put a side out, so we are working with the South African Rugby Union to find alternative opponents for Saturday or, if we can’t, then we’ll rearrange that for later in the tour.

“The approach is to stay calm, focused and take things one step at a time.”

As it stands, the Lions will travel down to Cape Town on Sunday where they will face South Africa A and the Stormers, before their first Test against the Springboks at Cape Town Stadium on 24 July.

Photo: Gallo Images

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Dylan Jack