South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus on Friday confirmed that next Saturday, June 5, will be the day when the 45 lucky South African rugby players who get to play the British and Irish Lions will be announced.
That enlarged squad will go into a hard bubble together and will see their first action nearly a month later in the first Test against Georgia.
The initial group will also comprise the 23 players that will represent SA A against the tourists in Cape Town on July 14. The squad will then be cut to 35-37 players ahead of the first Test against the Lions on July 24.
Both Erasmus and Springbok coach Jacques Nienaber said they were heartened by having plenty of talent to choose from.
“In a way we are lucky to have players all over the world because our players in South Africa have just been playing against each other,” Erasmus said.
“But a guy like Jasper Wiese has done really well for Leicester, Rynhardt Elstadt and Cheslin Kolbe won the European Cup with Toulouse and Damian de Allende has been doing really well at Munster. We also have wonderful young talent locally, so we look pretty okay.
“Three players from the World Cup squad have retired and Lood de Jager, RG Snyman and Warrick Gelant are touch-and-go with injuries, but the rest are all in the running.”
Head coach Nienaber added: “The Tests against Georgia fall within the international window and we’ll have other goals against them but we still need to perform and win.
“There’s been a joint effort from the referees, coaches and players to get as much ball-in-play time as possible in our local rugby and there has been a massive improvement from the Currie Cup. We were a bit worried but comparing the figures to the Premiership and the Pro14, there’s good parity now and we are really happy.”