British & Irish Lions assistant coach Neil Jenkins has shed further light on why they have refused to accommodate Rassie Erasmus’ request to play a second game against South Africa A on Saturday.
SA Rugby director of rugby Erasmus stated outright during a media conference on Monday that he hoped that two SA A games could take place against the Lions as the Boks look to increase their match preparation for the Test series.
The SA A team – filled with 2019 World Cup-winning Springboks – will face the Lions on Wednesday night in Cape Town.
The Springboks had to spend last week in self-isolation in hotel rooms in Johannesburg due to a Covid-19 outbreak in their camp and were only cleared to resume training this past Sunday. They were due to play Georgia in the second of two Tests last Friday, but the game was cancelled.
Despite Erasmus saying he would ‘beg’ for another match between the Lions and SA A, Lions head coach Warren Gatland batted away suggestions of a rematch.
Lions assistant coach Jenkins emphasised that the Lions are sticking to their guns about this decision, adding that the team felt the Stormers deserve the opportunity to face them.
“Gats felt that the schedule is the schedule,” Jenkins explained. “We play the Stormers on Saturday – we’re meant to anyway – and they deserve the opportunity to play against us.
“It’s the same as being here once every four years, for the countries that we tour it’s once in every 12 years. It’s South Africa A tomorrow and the Stormers on Saturday as far as I’m concerned.
“I believe that’s what Gats wants and I’m sure that’s what will happen. There’s an opportunity for the Stormers boys to play against us as well.
“It’s up to the boss,” Jenkins added. The schedule is the schedule and I’m one for that as well.
“Covid is horrific, there’s no doubting that throughout the world, and we’ve had our issues back home with lockdowns. It’s the same as what’s going on here, we respect every decision that’s made. It is what it is and we’ll crack on with that.”
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