British & Irish Lions legend Scott Gibbs raved about Rassie Erasmus’s on-field presence as the team’s ‘water boy’ and said it emphasised the brilliant bond between the players and the coach of the 2019 World Cup winners, writes Mark Keohane.
Gibbs, myself and the Moneyman spoke British & Irish Lions and Springboks in our review of the South African ‘A’ 17-13 win against the Lions at the Cape Town Stadium.
Gibbs, a veteran of three Lions tours to New Zealand (1992), South Africa (1997) and Australia (2001) applauded the effort of the South Africans and questioned the mental presence of the Lions in the opening exchanges.
Gibbs hasn’t lost faith in the Lions and believes they are capable of a series win against the Springboks, but he was frank in his assessment that to beat the Springboks it would require a different mindset from the Lions players and that they would have to improve considerably when it came to the collisions and the desire to boss the Boks physically.
Gibbs also spoke of the passion of the South Africans, the obvious connection between Erasmus and his players and the impact on the players of having Erasmus on the sideline.
Lions coach Warren Gatland is no fan of seeing Erasmus ‘running the water’ and joked that the next time Erasmus should actually carry some water and not just messages.
Gibbs thought it was fantastic seeing a coach so close to his players and felt the players and the coach fed off each other’s inspiration.
Gibbs felt Eben Etzebeth and Franco Mostert were colossal in the win and he also singled out the effectiveness and quality of the South African midfield pairing of Damian de Allende and captain Lukhanyo Am.
He felt the South Africans really delivered in the opening 40 minutes before yellow cards, substitutions and injury enforced changes contributed to the match losing intensity and its shape in the final quarter. He conceded both teams would be stronger in selections for the opening Test, but questioned whether Gatland was any closer to finalising the spine of his run-on XV, especially at halfback, at 10/12 and among the loose-forwards.
Watch: Scott Gibbs, Mark Keohane and The Moneyman discuss the SA ‘A’ fixture
Gibbs was not impressed with Owen Farrell at No 10 and expected a more inspired performance from the scrumhalf and captain Conor Murray in his first start of the tour.
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