Rugby-Lions expected to focus on injury plagued Springbok second row

Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Pool B - New Zealand v South Africa - International Stadium Yokohama, Yokohama, Japan - September 21, 2019 South Africa's Franco Mostert reacts REUTERS/Annegret Hilse

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa hope to overcome an injury crisis in the second row ahead of the British & Irish Lions tour and cope with what lock Franco Mostert predicts is going to be tough onslaught from the tourists.

Mostert is the only one of the Springbok’s four locks at the World Cup in Japan two years ago who is fit, while Lood de Jager, Eben Etzebeth and RG Snyman battle to be fit in time for the three test tour.

Etzebeth has joined up with the Springbok training camp after an injury-filled season in France and is expected to recover but there are still question marks over De Jager and Snyman, leaving the Boks looking threadbare in a department where Mostert thinks the Lions will focus much attention.

"From the time I spent at Gloucester, playing against the English guys, and at the World Cup final, they are going to physically bully us," Mostert said as South Africa continued their preparations for the Lions tour.

"They will want to take us out of our structure, and I think they will try to take us on up front. But, hopefully, we can do our job the best way we can and be successful in our plans.

"They will definitely want to bully us physically up front,” he said, adding that the quality of opposition was among the best.

"I think guys like Alun Wyn Jones and Maro Itoje are all world-class players.

"The guys that they've picked in the second row are the best in the UK, so it's just going to be an amazing tour with amazing games," Mostert added.

De Jager fracture a tibia and torn a meniscus in his knee in freak training ground injury at Sale while Snyman has not played since last August when rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament on his debut for Munster. He also suffered burns earlier this month in a bizarre fire-pit incident in Ireland.

South Africa have not played since winning the World Cup in November 2019 because of the COVID-19 pandemic but warm-up for the series with two test against Georgia early next month.

(Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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