Pretoria, (UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News – July 11, 2021): British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland said on Saturday that the past seven days have been one of the toughest times of his coaching career.
Speaking after the Lions beat the Sharks 71-31 in Pretoria to complete a treble in touring wins, Gatland said he believes a week of drama related to the Covid-19 cases has a positive edge.
“Nothing that gets thrown at us will come as a surprise,” he said.
The Lions will move to Cape Town on Sunday, leaving behind a player and four staff after a positive Covid test.
But Gatland said all of them subsequently tested negative and expected them to join the tour by Wednesday.
Gatland revealed there had been Covid issues from the day the Lions checked into their Johannesburg accommodation.
“We arrived at the hotel on day one and 12 of the staff had tested positive, then a few days later five more, then two more, then another.” He said the Lions had insisted that staff at their Cape Town hotel check in earlier, stay put and be tested regularly.
Gatland has said he is now focusing on the rugby challenge which will end with three tests against South Africa, starting in Cape Town on July 24.
“We are well aware of the challenges the Springboks will bring, how difficult they will be, and the physicality they will bring.
“The Sharks brought it to us in the first half, but we probably haven’t been tested for 80 minutes like we have to be. Hopefully we get it in the next two games.” Gatland said he had not yet been officially informed of who the Lions would play on Wednesday, although he expected the Cape Town franchise the Stormers to be with the game scheduled in South Africa A postponed to Saturday.
“The next two games are going to be pretty important for a number of players,” he said.
The Kiwi admitted the Lions weren’t at their best in a first half that ended in a tie at 26-26. The Lions took control in the second half after Sharks scrum half Jaden Hendrickse received a red card shortly after the break.
“We caused some of our own issues with some turnovers, a few interceptions and a few bad passes (which) got them into the game. We were a little nervous and messy,” said Gatland.
“I think that’s what happens in the test matches as it relates to the South African team coming quite strong and trying to put pressure on us.
“We have to make sure we’re a bit more precise and orderly. I think we did that a lot better in the second half.”