Cell C Sharks vs British and Irish Lions II talking points ahead of third tour match in South Africa
Ahead of the Lions' third tour match on South African soil, a rematch vs the Sharks on Saturday, live on Sky, we look at talking points including: Lions MD Ben Calveley on Covid; changes to the Sharks squad; Anthony Watson's pressure to perform; Sharks head coach Sean Everitt's game-plan
By Sky Sports Rugby Union
Last Updated: 10/07/21 6:29pm
We look at some of the talking points ahead of the British and Irish Lions' third tour match in South Africa, a rematch vs the Cell C Sharks on Saturday at Loftus Versfeld, live on Sky Sports.
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Calveley: Lions doing everything possible to overcome hurdles
Lions managing director Ben Calveley has had to field a host of questions this week, as four relevant squads within South Africa have suffered Covid outbreaks.
The Bulls, Lions, South Africa and Georgia all returned positive Covid-19 cases, leading to the Bulls vs Lions tour match being postponed and South Africa vs Georgia Test cancelled.
The Sharks have been drafted in to take the place of the Bulls on Saturday, and though Calveley admits the situation is far from easy, he says the Lions are determined to make the tour work.
"Look, what I would say is that it is a challenge," said Lions managing director Ben Calveley this week.
"I'm definitely not going to sit here and say that this is easy. We are absolutely determined to make it work.
"We put measures in place to make it work, so we're living in a very strict biosecure environment where we're governed by very strict protocols.
"We have a Medical Advisory Group in place that has independent virologists and infectious disease specialists advising us on what we can and can't do.
"It is the same for the Lions and the Springboks, we're tested frequently - minimum three times a week - we have no interaction with the general public, we're playing in far fewer venues than would originally have been the case and, of course, we don't have fans in the venues.
"So, we're doing everything we possibly can to make sure this tour will go ahead.
"We are determined to make it successful."
Sharks much-changed from Wednesday, with just four remaining
South Africa's Sharks have retained just four players from Wednesday's heavy loss to the touring Lions for their repeat meeting in Pretoria.
Only captain Phepsi Buthelezi in the back-row, scrum-half Jaden Hendrikse and wings Thaakir Abrahams and Werner Kok - the latter moves inside to centre - are retained from the starting team comprehensively beaten 54-7 at Ellis Park in Johannesburg.
The Sharks have been hastily arranged as opposition and the quick turnaround means a vastly changed team for them, while they already have nine players away with the Springboks.
"It's a little bit of late notice, but there is massive excitement to get another opportunity against world-class opposition", said head coach Sean Everitt.
"We see it as a massive privilege for our young team to develop after being starved of international action in the last 15 months.
"I think we have a shot at redemption. You always have to be positive, we felt even though we lost heavily on Wednesday, we did put the Lions through their paces. We need to sort out the errors that we made and we are definitely going out there to put on a better display."
The Sharks have also listed three extra replacements, and are awaiting formal approval to do so.
Watson needs to take his Lions chance
Perhaps the positional area of most depth and impressive performances so far for the Lions has been the back three.
Josh Adams has eight tries in three games, Duhan van der Merwe has four tries including a hat-trick last time out, Louis Rees-Zammit scored on his Lions debut and another since, Stuart Hogg captained the Lions with a superb performance vs the Sigma Lions, and Liam Williams has shown his quality too.
The one man who hasn't had a chance to show what he can do is 2017 Test Lions wing Anthony Watson. Watson, who was due to start on Wednesday before all the Covid-19 disruptions saw him pulled out, is in from the beginning for Saturday's clash.
With Adams and Van der Merwe in free-scoring form and Hogg and Williams two of the most impressive performers in the squad, Watson is suddenly under pressure to catch the eye.
The England and Bath wing is potentially the quickest of a very quick bunch, and has shone for the Lions and England on numerous occasions.
He needs a big one at Loftus Versfeld, however.
Sharks looking to respect possession
"Respect for the ball is really important," Sharks head coach Everitt added this week.
"We do create opportunities but we need to show patience, we can't force the passes or put kicks through, we need to hold on to the ball for an extra phase because somewhere along the line, the wall can break.
"We didn't show enough patience with the ball on attack against the Lions [on Wednesday] and we need to back ourselves to hold it through several phases, even more.
"When we get that right we'll be a really good, dangerous side and a difficult one to beat.
"Sometimes it's the make-up of the individuals and the enthusiasm and energy we have in the team, we tend to force things and hope that something happens from that. What you might get away with at Currie Cup level won't work against internationals.
"It's really about getting the balance right: when to have a go and when not to; when to force it and when not to. Against a quality team like the Lions, you have to be patient."
British and Irish Lions: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Elliot Daly, 12 Chris Harris, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies; 1 Rory Sutherland, 2 Jamie George (c), 3 Tadhg Furlong, 4 Maro Itoje, 5 Jonny Hill, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 7 Hamish Watson, 8 Jack Conan.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Kyle Sinckler, 19 Courtney Lawes, 20 Sam Simmonds, 21 Tom Curry, 22 Conor Murray, 23 Finn Russell.
Cell C Sharks: 15 Anthony Volmink, 14 Marnus Potgieter, 13 Werner Kok, 12 Murray Koster, 11 Thaakir Abrahams; 10 Lionel Cronje, 9 Jaden Hendrikse; 1 Nthuthuko Mchunu, 2 Kerron van Vuuren, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 4 Le Roux Roets, 5 Reniel Hugo, 6 Dylan Richardson, 7 Mpilo Gumede, 8 Phepsi Buthelezi (c).
Replacements: 16 Dan Jooste, 17 MJ Majola, 18 Khutha Mchunu, 19 Thembelani Bholi, 20 Jeandre Labuschagne, 21 Cameron Wright, 22 Boeta Chamberlain, 23 Jeremy Ward, 24 Lourens Adriaanse, 25 Rynhardt Jonker, 26 Curwin Bosch.