Springboks would sacrifice home advantage to play Lions this summer

We’ll play the Lions ANYWHERE! South Africa chief Rassie Erasmus insists the Springboks would be happy to sacrifice home advantage so they can face the best of Britain and Ireland this summer

  • The Lions and Springboks are locked in negotiations over the summer tour
  • Decision is due over either moving or delaying it before the end of the month
  • South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach Erasmus wants the series to happen

The South Africans will do anything to play the Lions, even if it means sacrificing a home series to play in the UK and Ireland this summer.

As Covid wreaks havoc with preparations for the marquee rugby event in the calendar, the Lions and Springboks are locked in negotiations around moving or delaying the tour.

Sportsmail understands that a decision is due before the end of the month and yesterday South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus spelled out how keen the Boks are for the series to happen wherever, whenever.

South Africa’s World Cup-winning coach Rassie Erasmus wants the Lions series to happen

‘We desperately want to play the Lions, and we will do anything to play them,’ said the director of rugby of the Springboks, who have not played at all since beating England in the 2019 World Cup final.

‘This series only comes around every 12 years. I have heard the different calls and opinions about the tour, and although we didn’t play in the Rugby Championship because of player welfare, it was also because we knew there was this big series in 2021.

‘If option one of playing in South Africa doesn’t work out, we will go to option Z to make it happen.

‘We don’t want to lose the Lions series. We feel we deserve to play against them.

The Springboks were due to host the two-month tour but Covid has made that impossible

‘I want to, (head coach) Jacques Nienaber wants to, the players want to, so from our side we’ll do anything.We will explore any option to play the Lions, we will play next year, we will play over there. This is the view from a player and management perspective.’

As Sportsmail has reported, while the Lions have not made a final decision, it is becoming increasingly likely the series will be staged on home soil for the first time this summer.

Keen to consider all the latest Covid data but also wary of making a timely decision, the outcome may well be known before the Six Nations.

For that Championship, Wales coach Wayne Pivac looks likely to call on the old guard, including 33-year-old flanker Dan Lydiate.

The Lions tour of South Africa is set to be cancelled if it isn’t staged this year in UK and Ireland

He is also considering a recall for 34-year-old fly-half Rhys Priestland.

Lions back-rower Lydiate has not played for his country since 2018 and 50-cap Priestland has been out since 2017.

As a Bath player, Priestland did not meet the 60-cap quota for those who ply their trade outside Wales.

He will join Cardiff Blues next season, with Bath announcing yesterday they have signed 29-year-old South African playmaker Tian Schoeman immediately for the rest of the season.

Sportsmail understands an exceptional circumstances clause has been agreed with the Welsh Rugby Union for Priestland to be picked for Wales tomorrow, if Pivac wants to plump for him over fellow Blue Jarrod Evans, who is 10 years Priestland’s junior.

The clause is similar to that which saw scrum-half Rhys Webb return to the national team last season when he was joining Ospreys from Toulon later in the year.

It is viewed as important to have one playmaker in the squad who will play in Wales — alongside Dan Biggar and Callum Sheedy.

  • England skills coach Jason Ryles will miss this spring’s Six Nations Championship. He is to stay with his family in Australia due to the Covid lockdown.

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