South Africa refuses to blame Covid chaos after defeat to British and Irish Lions

Captain Siya Kolisi and coach Jacques Nienaber claim South Africa CANNOT use their Covid chaos as an ‘excuse’ for second-half struggles in opening Test defeat to Lions… as Springboks insist they now’ have fire in the belly’ revenge to be exact

South Africa refused to blame the Covid chaos for their second-half struggles and defeat in the Lions First Test, saying they now have “fire in the gut” for next Saturday.

Leading 12-3 at halftime, the Springboks were plucked to the post and only now have to become the third side to come from behind to beat the Lions in a Test series after the Australians did it in 2001 and the New Zealanders in 2001. 1930.

Their captain Siya Kolisi – who was in isolation with Makazole Mapimpi, Ox Nche and Bongi Mbonambi until Monday this week after testing positive for the virus – said: “I can’t blame Covid, we had a great week of training.

South Africa’s captain Siya Kolisi looks dejected after their defeat to the Lions

“We had some chances that we couldn’t take in the second half and we couldn’t get our maul going. They had more opportunities than we did and they took advantage of them.’

And boss Jacques Nienaber, who was in charge of his second test after taking over Rassie Erasmus in 2019, agreed: “It’s well documented that we haven’t played much rugby together and I think it would be naive to saying it doesn’t have any effect, but if you look at what happened in the first half, we had a good consistency.

“I don’t think we can take that as an excuse and say that Covid was the reason why we didn’t dominate or have parity in the air because we did in the first half. We had three chances to score and get over the try line and I think we got over it all three times, but unfortunately we were brought back twice.

“It’s that close, the margins are inches and in one case the inch went for us and in the other two it didn’t go for us.”

Warren Gatland's Lions celebrate after victory over South Africa 22-17 in the opening Test

Warren Gatland’s Lions celebrate after victory over South Africa 22-17 in the opening Test

Faf de Klerk, the scrum half, was optimistic about Boks’ chances despite the loss.

“It’s a series of three tests, we have to keep our heads up tonight,” he said.

“We are a proud team, a proud nation. We will definitely be back with a little more fire in our bellies. A little more anger, but we have to control the anger to make sure our discipline is under control.

“Next week will be another huge challenge, but we’re looking forward to it.

“We’re wounded Springboks, we like to stand with our backs to the wall and fight our way out of there.”

Jacques Nienaber along with Kolisi said his side cannot blame Covid for the struggle in the second half

Jacques Nienaber along with Kolisi said his side cannot blame Covid for the struggle in the second half

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