Legendary former Springbok scrumhalf Fourie du Preez believes the British & Irish Lions will be a different prospect on their tour to South Africa in 2021.
Du Preez was a key member of the Springbok team that beat the Lions 2-1 in a series in South Africa in 2009.
On subsequent tours, under the tutelage of Warren Gatland, the Lions claimed a 2-1 series win over Australia in 2013 and drew 1-1 with New Zealand in 2017.
Gatland is again at the helm for this year’s series and Du Preez believes the New Zealander’s expertise, as well as the ominous form of the home nations, will make the upcoming series a tough one for South Africa.
“The Lions weren’t ready for that first Test in 2009. I doubt they will make the same mistake in 2021,” Du Preez said in an interview with Rugby World.
“Warren Gatland has been successful on past tours to Australia and New Zealand. He knows what’s required in South Africa, having been part of the coaching team in 2009 and having been head coach of Wales for so long,” Du Preez said.
As head coach of Wales, Gatland had a good record against the Springboks, having gone on a four-match winning run between 2016 and 2018, before South Africa turned the tables in the 2019 World Cup semi-finals.
Du Preez added: “England have been playing good rugby and winning big matches. Ireland have a lot of good players, and there are a few from Scotland too. Gatland will know how to get the best out of the Welsh players.
“The Lions certainly have all the ingredients for a successful tour. The Boks will have to be at their very best to come out on top.”
Meanwhile, as Covid-19 continues to wreak havoc across the globe, there appears to be doubt over whether the tour will go ahead as planned this year.
There have even been a suggestion that it could be moved to the UK and Ireland or delayed until 2022.
SA Rugby presidentMark Alexander told Sport24 over the weekend that the tour would not be worthwhile if it was to happen behind closed doors with no spectators in attendance.
Alexander added that any decisions on the tour would be taken by SA Rugby and the Lions together as part of the joint venture and that any final decisions would need to be taken by March at the latest.
The Lions’ first match in South Africa is scheduled for 3 July against the Stormers in Cape Town.
Full 2021 British & Irish Lions tour schedule:
– Saturday 26 June: British & Irish Lions v Japan – Murrayfield, Edinburgh
– Saturday 3 July: British & Irish Lions v Stormers – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
– Wednesday 7 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘Invitational’ – Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
– Saturday 10 July: British & Irish Lions v Sharks – Kings Park, Durban
– Wednesday 14 July: British & Irish Lions v South Africa ‘A’ Team – Mbombela Stadium, Nelspruit
– Saturday 17 July: British & Irish Lions v Bulls – Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
– Saturday 24 July (first Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – FNB Stadium, Johannesburg
– Saturday 31 July (second Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Cape Town Stadium, Cape Town
– Saturday 7 August (third Test): Springboks v British & Irish Lions – Ellis Park, Johannesburg
– Compiled by Sport24 staff