The warm-up matches are over. The British and Irish Lions take on South Africa on Saturday in the first of three Tests – all to be played at the Cape Town Stadium. With his South African hat on, we asked Mike Dias to preview the first Test along with Mike Jobling representing the Lions to look at the widely anticipated opening game of the Lions Tour. Dias predicts his Springboks to win a close opener with forward Pieter-Steph du Toit playing a starring role.
“Excitement finally. Since the South Africa A game I think the excitement has picked up. Unfortunately, I do feel the Tour has been over shadowed by Euro 2020. However I’m personally very excited for the game! I love watching the Springboks and grew up making it a big deal. So Biltong is ordered and hopefully have a Braai in the afternoon ready!
“I think we have put out a very strong team. Not many people will know about The Ox and maybe though Kitshoff would start. However, I think he will do well with the plan then to bring on what is actually the better front row to make huge impact. With Kitshoff, Marx and Melherbe coming on, that’s got to be a huge bonus. I think Weise was unlucky not to make the squad but we have to remember there is a lot of rugby to be played yet.
“Obviously the game will be hugely physical and South Africa will welcome that, I don’t think we will change much and try and force errors to capitalise on. There is this perception that South Africa can’t play which is great because people forget they scored the most points in a World Cup final along with Mapimpi scoring six tries. So they can play if needs be but only in the right areas for them.
“So it’s a low risk approach backing defence and physicality basically. Huge responsibility for Pollard who hasn’t played much rugby at all for two years as he ruptured his ACL not long after going to to France and then had to isolate in the Springboks camp so it’ll be interesting to see how he goes. My worry is Elton Jantjies on the bench instead of Morne Steyn as I think he suits the style of play and has been there and done it.
“The Lions have also put out a very strong team in my opinion and actually Luke Cowan Dickie and Lawes are perfectly suited to playing again SA. The concerns for me which give me more hope is all the combinations haven’t played together in important positions like the front row, back row, half-backs and back three also. So combinations and things might be off but that’s maybe me just hoping.
“I think the first 25 minutes is going to be huge and each team will want to build a score as soon as possible! I’m going for South Africa to win 18-15 with Pieter-Steph du Toit being named man of the match. As for first try scorer, I’m going for De Allende to score South Africa’s first try while Daly might score England’s opening try.”
Jobling, representing the British and Irish Lions, believes the Lions will start strongly with a five-point lead at the interval, before South Africa make the most of home advantage in the latter stages of the Test.
“Well, first of all what a spectacular occasion, somehow we have the Welsh terminator back leading the Four Nations united against the world champions!
“I’m thinking we are playing mind games with Rassie as we have made our own bomb squad off the bench!
“There is some doubts of what we will do as kindly pointed out by the rugby oracles, there are key partnerships that have not played any game time together on tour as of yet in the front row, back row, half-backs and the back three.
“I can see the Lions posing different challenges during the 1st Test, but I feel the overall score will be edged closer to the home side. I can see the Lions going in at half-time leading 12-7, but the Springboks might win the game 28-19.”