Rugby-Boks are ready despite disappointing warm-up defeat, coach says

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By Mark Gleeson

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa coach Jacques Nienaber feels his Springboks will be ready for the British and Irish Lions despite a disappointing defeat for a shadow side in a warm-up match in Cape Town on Saturday.

Few of the fringe players impressed as South Africa A went 17-14 down to Currie Cup champions Bulls in a hastily arranged scrimmage. But Nienaber said they were grateful for more game time for a squad that had been hit by a COVID-19 outbreak and spent most of last week cloistered in their hotel rooms.

"It's exactly what we wanted – not the result of course – but we gave guys an opportunity to stake claims for the test which is in a week’s time. I think we got a lot of answers in terms of the questions we had over certain players. Hats off to the Bulls for giving us this game. We needed answers and I felt we got a lot of them,” he told a news conference after the game.

"As a team the performance wasn't there, and that made it tough for individuals. But we have now got the three games we wanted before the test.”

South Africa played Georgia in a warmup test on July 2 but had a second test a week later cancelled because of the COVID-19 outbreak.

That meant the South Africa A side that beat the Lions 17-13 in Cape Town in midweek was a near full-strength Springbok side.

Saturday’s match against the Boks served as a curtain raiser ahead of the touring Lions’ clash with the Stormers at the Cape Town Stadium.

“We needed more minutes under our belt and now we can prepare for the test,” Nienaber added.

The first test will also be at the Cape Town Stadium next Saturday.

(Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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