Warren Gatland has hinted the British & Irish Lions may face the Stormers on Wednesday as the Cape franchise switches places with SA A on the tour itinerary while the Boks continue to contend with a widespread Covid-19 outbreak.
It has been reported that multiple members of the enlarged Springbok group, including among the management team, have tested positive for Covid-19. It’s believed that the vast majority of the Bok squad have in fact been infected.
A possible change in the Lions schedule to rather play the Stormers on Wednesday would be aimed at providing a buffer for isolation and more tests to be conducted, thereby reducing the likelihood that the SA A tour match would have to be postponed or cancelled.
“We’re not 100% sure who the opposition is going to be next week, so it’s a little bit difficult to plan too far ahead,” said Gatland. “It’ll either be the Springboks A or the Stormers. They might switch those games around.”
The Lions are set to tackle the Sharks again at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday in the third tour match after several Bulls players tested positive and the Rainbow Cup SA champs were ruled out.
If the change is approved, the Stormers will face the Lions at Cape Town Stadium on 14 July and the tourists will return to the venue three days later to take on SA A.
These latest developments have not only impacted the tour schedule but also affected the Springboks’ preparations for the three-Test series.
Positive cases have curtailed training while the second Test against Georgia was scrapped, and it seems unlikely there will be an opportunity for a proposed internal match with two teams drawn from the 46-man Springbok squad, who have all been in isolation this past week.