'Personally I can't see it being finished out' - Former Lion predicts tour cancellation
Former British and Irish Lions flanker Stephen Ferris doesn’t believe that the series is likely to be played out, given the current chaos in camp.
Both Warren Gatland’s Lions and their hosts, the Springboks, have both been hit by a Covid-19 outbreak just one week into the tour. The Lions will now face the Sharks for a second time after hammering them in their midweek game in Johannesburg 54 – 7, after their original opponents, the Bulls, were forced to pull out as they deal with their own outbreak.
Gatland remains stoical in the face of the Lions’ ongoing logistical challenges. Yesterday the New Zealander revealed that their one positive player has since returned a negative test and that it could see a tranche of isolated close contacts released back into the playing pool.
“I honestly believe that we will have a Test series,” said Gatland earlier this week. “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.
Ferris, who toured with the Lions when they were last in South Africa in 2009, is worried that this week’s disruptions are just the beginning, and told Jim Hamilton as much on the RugbyPass Fanzone.
“In 48 hours I could have a completely different answer because it is ever-changing,” said Ferris, when asked could he see the Tests going ahead. “Personally I can’t see it being finished out.”
“Last night, watching the Lions, and Finn Russell was the only back on the bench and was just going ‘imagine this Test side running out against South Africa and South Africa didn’t have any Covid cases and they were full strength. It would just be unfair on the players and it’s starting to look a bit unfair on some of the players, as by the fans.
“It comes back to the credibility – you don’t want to lose that. Anyone who has watched the Lions over the last couple of decades knows what it means, to play for the Lions and support the Lions, and that credibility could very well be lost if this tour doesn’t go ahead and it turns into a bit of **** show.”
“I was quite vocal that the tour should never have gone ahead in the first place, it should have been stalled for a period of time.
“I think everyone was positive in that we’re coming out of the right end of the pandemic and certainly things on this side of the water, seem to be going in the right direction.
“I think it definitely should have stalled, whether that be for a year or six months…domestic competition could have been altered for that Lions tour but you know what Jim, I have to be negative here.
“I was in the gym this morning and a guy just walks up to me and I had my head phones in and took them out, and he says ‘Did you watch the Lions’ game, what did you think?’ I said ‘yeah, the boys have done well but Finn Russell was the only back on the bench’ and he says ‘This tour is turning into a complete shambles…it’s a nightmare, how is it going to look going forward, is the credibility of the Lions going to effected if the tour goes ahead?’
“I go ‘Yeah, I think you’re right.” It’s very, very disheartening as a fan and a pundit. I can’t imagine what the players are dealing with.
“I’m trying to stay positive, I want to see these Test matches being played. You want to see two really well-oiled machines going head to head but the reality is, we’re talking about the Lions here but the South Africans, they’re the ones that suffering probably the most. They’re not getting the game time. They’ve played one bloody game since the Rugby World Cup, they’re decimated with Covid-19 cases.
“They going to be suffering going into that first Test against the Lions, if it happens. Please god, it goes ahead, but as it stands at the minute Jim, it doesn’t look good.’
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