Are in-form British and Irish Lions ready to beat the Springboks?
The first Test between the Springboks and the British and Irish Lions is nearly upon us and there are few clues as to which way this one will go.
The lead-up to the British and Irish Lions series against the Springboks has been fraught with uncertainty.
It is telling that even on the day of the first Test, expert pundits can’t pick which way the match or the series will go.
Former Springbok coach Nick Mallett had more questions than answers when discussing the match.
Experts in doubt
Mallett feels that the British and Irish Lions have been picked based on form, whereas some coaches might pick a side with specific skills needed to beat the Springboks.
“If I was picking a team to play South Africa, it’s the one team in the world you would pick according to the opposition,” Mallett said on SuperSport TV.
“All of these (Lions) guys have got form against our provincial franchise teams and quite frankly we weren’t putting up massive resistance.
“They’ve picked players on form, but have they picked a side to beat South Africa?”
How the Springboks intend to play isn’t a closely guarded secret, but Mallett also wondered whether they will be able to match the intensity that carried them to victory over England nearly two years ago.
“The Lions know what’s coming, the Springboks know what they have to produce. It’s just a question of whether there has been enough game time for the Springboks to produce that intensity they showed in that final,” said Mallett.
Beating the British and Irish Lions a bigger challenge that RWC
Mallett opined that winning a three-match series against the British and Irish Lions will be a much tougher ask than winning the World Cup. Partly because the tourists are loaded with quality players and partly because the three Tests come one after the other, meaning both sides will learn and adapt.
“To win a series from a rugby perspective is so much more than winning a World Cup,” Mallett said.
“You play Japan, you play Wales, you play England.
“You play the best of the northern hemisphere on Saturday, the best of the northern hemisphere the next Saturday. It’s a much bigger challenge.”
The first Test between the British and Irish Lions and the Springboks will kick off at 18:00 on Saturday 24 July 2021.