The SA ‘A’ team will launch the host nation’s Castle Lager Lions Series campaign against the British & Irish Lions at Cape Town Stadium on Wednesday, but with only one Test against Georgia and an SA ‘A’ game before kicking off the Test series, Erasmus said another fixture would be ideal from a preparation and team selection perspective.
“We are trying to secure another game on Saturday, so that the guys can play their way into the (Test) squad,” said Erasmus, SA Rugby’s Director of Rugby.
“We would like to give the British & Irish Lions the best opportunity to have a great Test next Saturday. It would also be fantastic for the fans.
“For me that would be the safest way, and it would be the best option to prepare us for the Test series. I am sure Warren (Gatland, British & Irish Lions head coach) would want us at full strength for the Test matches.”
Despite losing a week of training after a full shut-down in the team environment, which confined all the players and team management to their rooms from last week Monday to Sunday morning, Erasmus was positive that the team would deliver a worthy performance against the visitors.
“If we had played against Georgia twice and then the SA ‘A’ side before facing the British & Irish Lions in the Test series, we couldn’t have asked for much more,” said Erasmus.
“We lost a game and one week of training, and one doesn’t get out of shape in seven days, so we will be alright.”
With Springbok head coach Jacques Nienaber still in self-isolation in Johannesburg as he recovers from COVID-19, Erasmus – who will guide the SA ‘A’ team with assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick and Deon Davids – admitted that with a handful of players ruled out due to COVID-19, they had to make a few switches to their team for the match. Despite this, he looked forward to the challenge.
“It (the COVID-19 cases) obviously changed our team selection, but luckily we selected a squad 46 players, and we now have a similar number of players to the British & Irish Lions,” said Erasmus.
“This was certainly beneficial in being able to select a team that delivered negative COVID-19 test results for the last 10 days.”
Erasmus said the players who returned positive COVID-19 test results in the last week would be phased back into the team according to strict return to play protocols following their mandatory self-isolation period.