Boks to go full strength against Georgia

The Springboks will field their strongest available teams in their warm-up games against Georgia as they expect to have their overseas-based players available.

SA Rugby director of rugby Rassie Erasmus and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber on Friday held a virtual briefing to provide an update on the national team’s preparations for the fast-approaching Lions tour.

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Erasmus said that a 45-man player group – which will include the Springbok and SA ‘A’ squad – will be named on 5 June.

The Springboks are expecting to have their overseas contingent available for the warm-ups against Georgia on 2 and 9 July as the two Tests fall within World Rugby’s Regulation 9 window.

‘Some of the guys are already here,’ Erasmus said. ‘Some of the Japan-based players have already been with us this week. There are one or two injured guys from abroad who are here. As the teams fall out of their different league in the Premiership, Pro14 and Top 14, they will be joining us.’

Erasmus added that SA Rugby has maintained a healthy working relationship with the majority of overseas clubs, noticeably namedropping Munster, the Sale Sharks and Toulouse, who employ World Cup-winners Damian de Allende, Faf de Klerk and Cheslin Kolbe, among their South African contingent.

‘There are clubs – and it’s 90% of the clubs – that have such a good working relationship with us. 90% of the clubs were open. It does differ from club to club. In the future, when a player wants to go abroad and we can’t afford him, but we want him to stay in the mix, if it’s a club that is helpful, has a great high-performance programme and is willing to work with us – like, Munster, Sale or Toulouse – we would encourage you if we can’t keep you.

‘There are other clubs that make it difficult sometimes. We will tell a player that if you want to stay in Springbok contention, have a second think about that one.’

Meanwhile, English media reported that most of the Lions squad – bar Racing 92’s Finn Russell – have already or are busy undergoing their vaccines for the Covid-19 coronavirus.

With South Africa’s Olympic Games athletes also progressing smoothly with their vaccinations, Erasmus confirmed that the Springbok squad and management are in a similar process.

‘Having the British & Irish Lions coming into our country, they have all been vaccinated and we are going into hard bubbles,’ Erasmus explained. ‘It is the safest thing for them. We want to protect ourselves and the series to go ahead. We don’t want an outbreak, but we also want to protect them and ourselves.

‘I am not 100% sure if it is a requirement, but we are certainly trying to vaccinate everybody before we get into the hard bubble.’

Photo: Getty Images

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Dylan Jack