Plans progressing for South Africa to host the Lions

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Under the agreement reached with the Lions, the tour will involve eight games, and if it is not possible to allow spectators at games, the bio-bubble option is most likely to be used.

 

While it is 16 months since the World champions have played a Test match, confidence is high in South Africa that the Springboks will be competitive in the series.

 

Leading South African rugby journalist Mike Greenaway looked to the example set by Argentina in last year's Tri Nations Championship to rate the Springboks' chances.

 

"If I can give one reason why that doesn't necessarily mean the Boks are no-hopers, it is the extraordinary events that transpired during the Rugby Championship [sic] in Australia last year when Argentina shocked the All Blacks and drew with the Wallabies," he wrote on iol.co.za.

 

"The prediction for the Pumas was massive hidings given that none of their players had been in action since the Jaguares ceased playing in March last year when Super Rugby was shut down.

 

"The Argentine players went from playing no rugby for six months to beating the All Blacks, whose players had just finished a highly-competitive Supe Rugby Aotearoa competition.

 

"The only rugby the Pumas had prior to that epic victory was two warm-up matches against Aussie composite sides, following intensive internal camps," he said.

 

 

That showed that it wasn't always necessary to have a convoluted build-up to a major series to be successful.

 

"Sometimes less is more, and it allows you to be more heavily focused," he said.

 

The Springboks also had the advantage of having played some rugby in their domestic competitions, while they also had players playing overseas in Japan and for European clubs.

 

Lock Eben Etzebeth had joined wing Cheslin Kolbe as a folk hero in France, while Makazole Mapimpi, Malcolm Marx, and Willie le Roux were in-form in Japan.

 

Home-based players were also performing well, he said.

 

"Duane Vermeulen has been immense, cleaning up just about every award on offer. World Cup final front-rankers Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe and Bongi Mbonambi are playing well, and Lukhanyo Am is back in form at No13 for the Sharks.

 

"The significant development is that [flanker and Bok captain] Siya Kolisi debuted for the Sharks last week after a difficult year of injuries, and I am certain he is entering a new lease on life, and come the Lions he will be in the best form of his life," he said.

 

Two concerns were the significant injuries suffered by first five-eighths Handré Pollard and loose forward Pieter-Steph du Toit. However, they were on course in their comebacks.

 

"Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber will have the same squad that won the World Cup and, by July, the Boks will have had their camps and their warm-up games, and there is every chance they can pick up where they left off in Japan," he said.

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