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Springboks boss Nienaber addresses growing cancellation fears over Lions tour

By Liam Heagney
(Photo by PA)

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New Springboks boss Jacques Nienaber believes the Lions tour will still go ahead even though the Lions have just arrived in South Africa amid the implementation of further measures to stop the spread of the virus in the country. There is speculation that the Lions tour will get switched to Cape Town and take it away from the Gauteng region which is at the epicentre of growing pandemic concerns. 


The Springboks play their first Test match in 20 months under Nienaber when they take on Georgia in Pretoria on Friday night while the touring Lions are set to open their schedule in Johannesburg this Saturday against the former Super Rugby Lions. Concerns about the viability of the tour were further increased with a virus outbreak within the Springboks camp but Nienaber doesn’t believe the tour is facing cancellation. 

After naming an XV to face Georgia that contains two uncapped wingers in Rosko Specman and Aphelele Fassi, Nienaber, the former defence coach under Rassie Erasmus, was asked about the viability of the Lions tour in the current climate and he was adamant it would continue to go ahead.    

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Lions out-half Dan Biggar is ready for the Springboks
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Lions out-half Dan Biggar is ready for the Springboks

“Yes, definitely, because of the environment that they have established for both teams,” he insisted. “I’m not an expert in terms of Covid and viruses and virology and all that but they are trying to mitigate the risk of infection as much as they can and we adhere to those protocols as much as we can.

“From the Springboks side, there is not a player that doesn’t want to participate in this tour because it is such a special tour and it only comes around once every twelve years and you will be lucky as a Springboks player to participate in it once in your career.

“Everybody is trying their utmost best to stay virus-free, Covid-free, stay within the boundaries. I don’t think with a virus you can completely take away all risks. I am not an expert in that but the precautions that people have taken to keep us as safe as possible is magical and we are obliging of that, so I can’t see the tour will be in jeopardy. We are operating as normal within our environment as much as normal as it is currently in Covid. so no I can’t see it being in jeopardy.”


Nienaber added: “As a Springboks side I must compliment all the stakeholders involved. We are in a close-knit environment and they look after the safety and the way we do things. We are fortunate in terms of that. From the country’s perspective, I must be honest I was purely focusing on this match, purely focusing on the rugby side of things, but our country moved to alert level four. 

“From a rugby side, how the Springboks are managed, it is awesome. They really look after our safety and there are good protocols in place making sure and we make sure we adhere to that to make sure that the squad is safe, that the integrity of the tournament is safe so that is pretty much from the rugby side on the covid issues.”


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