Springboks cancel press conference as Lions land in South Africa
South Africa cancelled a scheduled media conference on Monday as questions over the British and Irish Lions tour continue just as the visitors touched down in the country.
The Springboks announced three COVID-19 infections in their squad on Sunday as they prepare for their first international in 20 months against Georgia on Friday, a game which is to serve as a warm-up for the Lions series.
South Africa released an advisory early on Monday announcing the cancellation of the media conference “as the team await recommendations from the Lions Series Medical Advisory Group”.
Scrumhalf Herschel Jantjies, prop Vincent Koch and winger S’bu Nkosi have been named as the players who tested positive but there are concerns a larger group could be close contacts of the infected trio and may need to go into isolation.
The outbreak has created a major headache for cash-strapped South African Rugby on the eve of a Lions tour they desperately need to succeed to fill the organisation’s dwindling coffers.
Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus played down the threat to the series on Sunday, but clearly there is a cause for concern.
“I’m pretty confident that it’s an isolated case. None of them has symptoms, and we’ll do retesting (when) the medical committee tell us to,” he told reporters.
“We just need to follow correct protocol and wait for the committee to tell us exactly what they want us to do next.”
The Lions are scheduled to play five of their eight matches, including two of the three tests, in the Gauteng province, which is the epicentre of South Africa’s third wave of infections.
Local media reported that organisers were discussing the idea of moving most of the games to Cape Town.
The tourists are due to play their first match against the Johannesburg-based Lions franchise on Saturday.
(Reporting by Nick Said; Editing by Peter Rutherford )
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