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What Gatland made of the Springboks' win over Georgia

By Liam Heagney

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Lions boss Warren Gatland has given his assessment of the Springboks after the world champions played their first Test match in 20 months on Friday night. The Jacques Nienaber-coached South Africans had not been in action since the November 2019 World Cup final win over England in Yokohama. 

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However, that layoff was ended by a 40-9 success over Georgia in Pretoria 22 days before they will face the Lions in the first Test of their three-match series. “Obviously South Africa were a bit rusty,” said Gatland, whose own team got their show up and running in South Africa with a 56-14 win over Sigma Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday. 

“They haven’t played for such a long time and they got some dominance and when they got ahead they looked to start to play some rugby and there is no doubt that they showed what they are capable of doing. 

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World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe guests on the latest RugbyPass Offload
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“Their driven lineout and strong individual running wasn’t something unexpected from us to watch. They will definitely improve next week with the combinations and being back together, and the South African coaches, like us, will be looking to improve week to week.”

The Springboks face Georgia again next Friday while the Lions are scheduled to take on the Sharks next Wednesday in their next outing. The Lions also have games versus the Bulls, South Africa A and the Stormers before the Test series against the Springboks commences and Gatland expects it to be a thriller on a par with the famed 1997 and 2009 series.      

“I hope so. We haven’t come here to make up the numbers even though there are a few journalists writing us off and saying we are going to get hammered. Hopefully, if we keep improving, we have got some players who have had a lot of experience and players who have had success against South Africa in recent years and some disappointments too. 

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“It makes it really exciting because I know how motivated this group to put on the jersey and compete for a Test spot. That makes the coaches’ job so much easier. We are very motivated to leave South Africa with a Test victory.”

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What Gatland made of the Springboks' win over Georgia

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