Six more players – including South Africa captain Siya Kolisi – have tested positive for Covid. But a large group has been cleared to train

Springboks resume training for Lions series

South Africa will resume training for the British & Irish Lions 2021 Test series today.

The Springboks have been in isolation for a week after a number of members of the squad – players and staff – tested positive for Covid-19.

While six further players – Siya Kolisi, Dan du Preez, Ox Nché, Bongi Mbonambi, Scarra Ntubeni and Makazole Mapimpi – have tested positive over the past week and are isolating, a large group of players have been cleared to return to training.

An SA Rugby statement said: “All the players and management who had Covid-19 Tests on Saturday returned negative test results, which paved the way for the players to train on Sunday.

“Four rounds of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing in the last week delivered new positive cases among the players and three among the team management.

“With the entire squad and management team confined to their rooms since Monday, however, the possibility of transmission through close contact has been mitigated.”

Given that a number of front-rowers are amongst those players who tested positive and have to isolate, Sharks hooker Fez Mbatha and Bulls prop Lizo Gqoboka have been called up to the Boks squad as cover.

The past week has disrupted the Boks’ preparations for the Test series against the Lions, which will start on 24 July, and following the cancellation of Friday’s second Test against Georgia, this week’s South Africa A-Lions match now takes on extra significance.

Related: Will South Africa be ready for Lions Test series?

South Africa’s director of rugby Rassie Erasmus will lead the training sessions, along with assistant coaches Mzwandile Stick, Daan Human and Deon Davids, as head coach Jacques Nienaber remains in self-isolation after testing positive on Monday.

Nienaber said: “We are delighted to be able to return to the field and resume our preparations.

“It has been a challenging week with the Test against Georgia cancelled and the entire squad self-isolating for a few days as a preventative measure, so the players cannot wait to get back on the park.

Springboks resume training

Jacques Nienaber and Siya Kolisi are amongst those isolating (Getty Images)

“The Test against Georgia was important for us with an eye on preparing to face the British & Irish Lions, but these are extraordinary times and we have to adapt as a team, and I have to commend the players and management for that.

“It is also great to have Rassie (Erasmus) steering the ship while I am away. He has been part of the system for several years now and he guided most of these players to the Rugby World Cup title in 2019, so the team is in great hands.”

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