Lions as expected say Boks

The man charged with plotting the downfall of the Lions later this summer says there are 'no major surprises' in Ian McGeechan's 37-man playing squad. [more]

Lions as expected say Boks

The man charged with plotting the downfall of the Lions later this summer says there are ‘no major surprises’ in Ian McGeechan’s 37-man playing squad.

South Africa head coach Peter de Villiers aims to inflict a third successive series defeat on the tourists when his world champion Springboks face the Lions on June 20, 27 and July 4.

De Villiers admits he watched McGeechan’s squad announcement with great interest on Tuesday afternoon, especially as the selection now means the Springbok preparations can now move full steam ahead.

”We believe that Ian McGeechan and his team have placed their confidence in what they believe to be the best 37 players in the four Home Unions,” said de Villiers.

“It is a good squad, which is what we expected, based on the players who were on form in the Six Nations and understanding the type of players that Ian McGeechan was looking for.

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 “It is also evident that the squad has been picked on form, fitness, combinations and experience. It looks like a well-balanced and experienced group and it will be interesting to see how their Test side takes shape.

“As expected, the bulk of players are from Ireland and Wales, but the number of England players in the group is evidence of the improvement they showed in the closing stages of the Six Nations.

“For us, however, it is more important that we now know exactly who our opposition will be as opposed to which players made it and which did not.”

With South African sides still in with a chance of Super 14 glory, no date has yet been set for the announcement of the Springbok squad that will prepare to face the Lions in Durban, Pretoria and Johannesburg.

The Bulls and the Sharks currently occupy the top two spots in the Super 14 and de Villiers says the prospect of their progress to the latter stages is impacting on the timing of the naming of his own squad.

He insists, however, that when the time comes for the squad to be announced, he expects to have all his big-name players available for selection.

“One of our main concerns at this stage is the possibility of us having a team or teams in the semi-finals or final of the Super 14 which has to travel to Australasia,” added de Villiers.

”We have not yet confirmed the date for our squad announcement as we have to consider the possibility of our having a team in the Super 14 final on May 30.

“Regardless of which teams SA teams might be involved in the Super 14 final, the practice match against a Namibian Invitation XV will go ahead in Windhoek on May 29. 

 “We have kept a close watch on the Super 14 and particularly the players that have formed part of our core group over the past 18 months. We may look at a few newcomers based on the consistency of performances this season. 

“There are a few injury concerns presently but we expect that all of the leading contenders will be fit when we assemble in June.”

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