Rugby

British and Irish Lions 2021: Rassie Erasmus says there is ‘no threat’ to Tests

South Africa have not played a Test match since winning the Rugby World Cup in November 2019

South Africa director of rugby Rassie Erasmus said there is “no threat” to July’s British and Irish Lions Tests after three of his players returned positive Covid-19 results.

The Springboks squad is isolating in Johannesburg, where the Lions play their first game on 3 July.

Warren Gatland’s side travel to South Africa on Sunday evening and the first Test is on 24 July.

“I don’t think it’s a big cause for concern,” Erasmus said.

“But we want to keep everybody as safe as possible.”

The Springboks are due to play the first of two Tests against Georgia on 2 July – their first outing since winning the World Cup in November 2019.

“It is disruptive but it has happened to other rugby teams over the last months and we have enough players in our camp to go ahead with our matches,” Erasmus continued.

“There is no threat to either the Tests against Georgia or the Lions tour.”

A warm-up victory against Japan saw the Lions’ preparations hit too as captain Alun Wyn Jones suffered a tour-ending injury.

Warren Gatland’s side will play an eight-game tour, culminating in three Test matches against the world champions on consecutive weekends from 24 July.

Erasmus said his team had followed all necessary protocols since their three-week conditioning camp in Bloemfontein began.

Scrum-half Herschel Jantjies, prop Vincent Koch and wing S’bu Nkosi were named as the three players who had tested positive, but all three will be re-tested.

Jantjies and Nkosi had been training with the national side, while Koch arrived at the weekend from English club Saracens.

“If they are positive it is a case of being unlucky, not anything that they might have done wrong,” Erasmus said.

All South African players underwent coronavirus testing and were only allowed into rooms at their Johannesburg hotel after being given a negative result on Saturday.

South Africa has been battling a third wave of coronavirus in recent weeks, with the health system in Gauteng – the province in which the Lions begin their tour – particularly struggling.

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