Mbatha, Gqoboka added to Springbok squad

Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka have been drafted into the Springbok squad as cover after a widespread Covid-19 outbreak in the national squad.

After a week of isolation, it was confirmed by SA Rugby that the players and management who had COVID-19 Tests on Saturday returned negative test results, which paved the way for the players to train on Sunday.

Four rounds of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in the last week delivered new positive cases among the players and three among the team management.

The players who tested positive were Springbok captain Siya Kolisi, Dan du Preez, Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Makazole Mapimpi.

With the entire squad and management team confined to their rooms since Monday, however, the possibility of transmission through close contact has been mitigated.

As a result of all the positive COVID-19 test results, and now with all the players who tested positive expected to follow strict return-to-play protocols, Mbatha and Gqoboka have been drafted into the squad.

Nienaber welcomed Mbatha and Gqoboka to the squad and said: “They have both been playing good rugby for their franchises.

“Lizo has played for the Springboks so we know him well, and Fez has an idea of the expectations of representing the country after playing for the Junior Springboks in the World Rugby U20 Championship, and he attended our Springbok alignment camps earlier in the year.”

“Fez also experienced first-hand what the British & Irish Lions have to offer after facing them in the midweek game on Wednesday, so we are pleased to welcome him to the squad and to see what he will bring on the training field.”

The South Africa ‘A’ team is scheduled to face the British & Irish Lions in Cape Town on Wednesday, 14 July.

This will be followed by three Test matches against the visitors in the historic series on Saturday, 24 and 31 July, and 7 August respectively.

READ: Springboks resume training after Covid chaos

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Craig Lewis