British & Irish Lions

All Blacks great sounds warning to Lions: Expect a 'pounding' from Springboks

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Sean Fitzpatrick. (Photo by Simon Hoffman/Getty Images)
Sean Fitzpatrick. (Photo by Simon Hoffman/Getty Images)

Legendary former All Blacks captain Sean Fitzpatrick has warned the British & Irish Lions of the physical "pounding" they can expect in the series against the Springboks.

Fitzpatrick's views come as Lions coach Warren Gatland prepares to name his squad for the tour to South Africa on Thursday.

Due to Covid-19, the Springboks haven't played Test rugby since their 2019 World Cup final triumph over England, but according to Fitzpatrick, some things never change with the Boks.

"The big negative for the Springboks at the moment is that they haven't played a Test since 2019. They will be underdone, but you could say the same for the Lions, they haven't played for four years either," Fitzpatrick told the Daily Mail.

But he warned: "What they (South Africa) brought to the World Cup was real size. Big men. And that's the whole squad, not just the starting 15. We saw in the final, when they emptied the bench out; bigger men, bigger players.

"So that will be something the Lions will have to look at in terms of bulk, he (Gatland) is going to need big men himself, and they have big men in the UK and Ireland. So I don't see it as a major issue, but it's whether the Lions can compete for 80 minutes with the pounding that they are going to take.

"That's the Springboks' biggest threat, the size and volume they can keep throwing at you."

Fitzpatrick, who played 92 Tests for New Zealand and led the All Blacks to a 2-1 series victory over the Lions in 1993, also weighed into the captaincy debate which seems to be centred around Welsh veteran Alun Wyn Jones and England lock Maro Itoje.

"Alun Wyn Jones's form of late would suggest that Gats (Gatland) would go with him. Gatland knows him as well as anyone," Fitzpatrick said.

The Lions squad will be named at 13:00 on Thursday, with the tour scheduled between 3 July and 7 August.

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