South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi says Springboks are ‘ready for battle’ ahead of opening Lions Test

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South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi says Springboks are ‘ready for battle’ ahead of opening Lions Test
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South Africa hooker Bongi Mbonambi is one of those elite rugby players who is combative on the field but reverts to a gentle persona once the final whistle blows.

But on Tuesday, in a press conference held following the Springboks’ squad announcement for the first Test against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday, the 30-year-old sent a warning shot from Cape Town.

“We’re ready for battle,” he said in an assertive tone.

Mbonambi was fielding questions largely focussed on his mental and physical well-being. He was one of five Springboks - including captain Siya Kolisi - who was forced to isolate for much of the last seven days as a result of a positive Covid-19 test.

This has not been the only challenge facing coach Jacques Nienaber as he prepares for one of the toughest assignments in world rugby.

It’s been 21 months since the Springboks played a team ranked in the top 10 in the world. In that time, the Lions’ players have competed in two Six Nations and several Autumn internationals.

But Mbonambi remained nonplussed.

“There has been a lot of talk from people out there saying that we’re underdone,” he said.

 (PA)
(PA)

“The only thing they’re doing is throwing more petrol on the fire that is burning.

“We’ll see what happens on Saturday. The whole team is looking forward to it.”

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