Lions chaos: 'There will be a huge asterisk next to who wins this series'
The series has been thrown into chaos in the last 72 hours as the Lions, the Springboks, the Bulls and Georgia all recorded coronavirus outbreaks in camp, throwing the real doubt on the viability of the enterprise. While yesterday’s Sharks fixture was fulfilled, the Lions game against the Bulls on the weekend is ‘postponed’, with the touring side having to replay the C Cell Sharks and re-run of their Wednesday evening fixture.
The fear of course that this week’s disruption is just the beginning and that as Covid-19 ravages the Rainbow Nation, more games will fall victim to the vagaries of the pandemic.
Head coach Warren Gatland last moved to reassure, saying that he strongly believed that the Test series will go ahead, come what may. “I honestly believe that we will have a Test series. We’ve been in this bubble for the last four weeks so we’re not sure where it’s come from. We’ve been very vigilant in terms of what we’ve been doing as a group.
“When we first came into the (Johannesburg) hotel there were a number of hotel staff who tested positive and had to be removed. Whether it’s come from them or not….we’re not sure where we’ve picked these cases up from.”
Glasgow Warriors’ Ryan Wilson and Munster’s returnee Zebo spoke about the unfolding chaos on tour on The Offload podcast on RugbyPass, with the former Ireland international wading in on the credibility of the Test matches if big-name players are removed from the field of play due to isolation.
“If two or three players from each of the two side get it before one of the big games, and the results hinges on that,” said Zebo. “There’ll be a huge asterisk next to who wins this series.”
“If South Africa lose Kolbe and two or three second rows, and the Lions win, I don’t know. Maybe they should have gone to Australia and stayed in bubbles there. South Africa’s in a lot of trouble from having spoken to people living over there.”
Wilson said he felt gutted for the Lions player who had to debut in front of an empty stadium against the Sigma Lions the weekend before.
“I honestly felt so gutted for those guys who are getting their first taste of the Lions as I can only imagine especially when they go up against South Africa, what it would have been like to play in a packed out stadium in South Africa. I don’t think there would be any better feeling.”
“They’re running out into empty stadiums. It’s just such a bloody shame. I know it’s a privilege what they do but it’s [full stadiums] all part and parcel of it.”
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