Lions forward Curry understands South African agony over coronavirus

Johannesburg (AFP) –


British and Irish Lions flanker Tom Curry said on Tuesday he had "massive understanding" of the South African players affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

Cases of Covid-19 in the Bulls camp have put Saturday's match against the Lions in jeopardy, while the Springboks, who meet the Lions in three Tests from July 24, are also dealing with the virus.

The Springboks' planned Tuesday announcement of their team for a scheduled match against Georgia on Friday was delayed until results of Covid tests had been assessed.

Lock Lood de Jager tested positive on Monday, forcing the 44-strong squad into self-isolation.

Curry will make his Lions debut against the Sharks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Wednesday.

He spoke from personal experience after his Sale Sharks team missed out on last season's English Premiership play-offs when they were forced to cancel their last league match because of Covid in their camp.

"For South African players a Lions tour is once every 12 years. It's a huge occasion for them, so massive, massive understanding for them," said Curry.

"It's not people's fault if they catch Covid, to be honest, so huge understanding for them."

But Curry and defence coach Steve Tandy said the Lions were not being distracted from their preparations by the problems affecting their future opponents.

"It's out of our control. Whatever happens, happens," said Curry.

Tandy said: "We're just focusing on ourselves, building on past performances."

It was suggested to Tandy that it might be possible for the Lions to play Georgia if their match against the Bulls was cancelled and the Springboks could not play.

He said the question was hypothetical, "but anything is possible with Covid".

Tandy said the Lions would simply have to adapt if the Bulls game –- one of five warm-up matches before the Tests -- was cancelled.

"It is only as difficult as you make it," he said. "It's already going to be difficult (to prepare for the Tests). I don't think it will make too much difference."