The greatest challenge yet awaits | Lions Weekly Round-up #3
The British & Irish Lions Weekly round-up, brought to you by The Famous Grouse
Warren Gatland’s Lions seem to have emerged from their first brush with Covid-19 relatively unscathed, with the outbreak, as we speak, under control. Now the Lions face the prospect of South Africa A, who should be their toughest Test of tour to date. But the fixture to date is hardly set in stone. Gatland suggested that the game could yet be filled by swapping with the Stormers fixture, should the Springbok outbreak make playing them impossible.
While it seems to be pandemonium currently for most squads involved in this tour, the Lions are facing far fewer problems on the pitch, having comfortably beaten the Cell C Sharks in back-to-back fixtures on Wednesday and Saturday.
There has been a new addition to the squad this week, as England’s Marcus Smith was called up on Saturday as a replacement for Finn Russell, who has a problem with his Achilles. The Harlequins fly-half was informed of his call-up in the Twickenham tunnel on Saturday after being replaced in England’s victory over Canada. Gatland has still not confirmed whether the Scotland No 10 will play any further part in this tour.
Meanwhile, Conor Murray is set to make his first start against South Africa A since being named Tour Captain, in what should be a far sterner challenge than what the squad have faced so far. Gatland said: “Wednesday’s game against South Africa ‘A’ will be our toughest encounter since we arrived here and we’re looking forward to it. We expect them to be physical in the contact area and look to test us at scrum time.”
OFF THE PITCH
It will be a relief to the entire Lions squad to know that the player who initially produced a positive Covid test on Wednesday has since tested negative twice, as the millions of fans at home will hope that is the last roadblock the squad face.
STAT OF THE WEEK
Wales’ Josh Adams appears to be in insatiable try scoring form, having added a hat-trick on Wednesday to the four he scored the Saturday before. He has already broken the number of tries scored by a Lions tourist in the professional era, and is on course to make sure no one breaks it for many tours to come.
Previously, the record for most tries scored by one player on a Lions tour in the professional era is seven – a figure hit by both John Bentley and Tony Underwood in 1997, but that was with a 14-game tour.
Josh Adams has scored eight tries in three matches. ?????#LionsRugby
— Josh Gardner (@joshgardner) July 7, 2021
TOURIST OF THE WEEK
Adams was not the only player to bag a midweek hat-trick, as Duhan van der Merwe also chipped in with three in the 54-7 win on Wednesday. The Scotland winger added a further try in the 71-31 win on Saturday to keep Adams on his toes in the race to be the tour’s top scorer.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
The Lions found themselves in a spot of bother against the Sharks at half-time of their second encounter, and were drawing 26-26. However, a reckless elbow from scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse’s, who had already scored, to the head of Liam Williams in the 46th minute completely changed the game. The Rugby Critic perfectly summed up on Twitter how match seemed to descend from a tight affair to a wrestling match.
*Lions finally being put under pressure for the first time on this tour.
— The Rugby Critic (@therugbycritic) July 11, 2021
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