ALL three Tests between South Africa and the British & Irish Lions will now be played in Cape Town, the two teams confirmed yesterday.

The second and third Tests were both due to be played in Johannesburg, but the state of the Covid-19 pandemic in and around that city convinced both squads that they should stay in Cape Town following Saturday’s first Test.

“We are fully supportive of this decision, which we believe to be in the best interest of the Test series,” Lions managing director Ben Calveley said. Lions head coach Warren Gatland revealed ten days ago that that decision was extremely likely. 

Meanwhile, the Springboks have been able to put their Covid problems behind them - for the time being, at least - and select a full-strength squad for Saturday.

On Monday captain Siya Kolisi, prop Ox Nche and wing Makazole Mapimpi became the last players to rejoin the squad in Cape Town following a period in isolation in Johannesburg, and all three take their place in head coach Jacques Nienaber’s starting line-up.

The only slight surprise is the preference of Nche over Steven Kitshoff on the bench, but as the Springboks demonstrated en route to winning the World Cup two years ago, they have formidable strength in depth in the front row.

Fears that the home side would be undercooked have been eased by the fact that many played for South Africa ‘A’ against the Lions and the Bulls last week, and those two matches allied to the earlier 40-9 win over Georgia have convinced Nienaber that his squad are in good shape. The one slight exception is stand-off Handre Pollard, whose lack of game time persuaded his coach to go with three backs on the bench rather than just two. 

“We will go with a six-two split if it’s available to us and we feel confident doing that,” Nienaber said. “But Handre hasn’t played a lot, he’s just come back from Covid, so we just thought it was not the right time to go with just two backs on the bench.”

South Africa (v British & Irish Lions at the Cape Town Stadium, Saturday 5pm BST): W Le Roux (Toyota Verblitz); C Kolbe (Toulouse), L Am (Sharks), D de Allende (Munster), M Mapimpi (Sharks); H Pollard (Montpellier), F de Klerk (Sale); O Nche (Sharks), B Mbonambi (Stormers), T Nyakane (Bulls), E Etzebeth (Toulon), F Mostert (Honda Heat), S Kolisi (Sharks, captain), P du Toit (Stormers), K Smith (Yamaha Jubilo). Substitutes: M Marx (Kubota Spears), S Kitshoff (Stormers), F Malherbe (Stormers), L de Jager (Sale), R Elstadt (Toulouse), H Jantjies (Stormers),E Jantjies (Pau), D WIllemse (Stormers).