Head coach Warren Gatland believes the Lions hurt the Springboks’ pride with a dominant set-piece showing despite falling to a 17-13 loss to South Africa A.
Springboks assistant coach Mzwandile Stick rejected Gatland’s “mind games” ahead of Saturday’s Test series opener in Cape Town, but also vowed the hosts would prove their point in deed not word.
“From my side I won’t go deep on that one,” said Stick.
“We were happy as a Springbok team; if you look at the most important stat in the game, which is the final score. We won the game so I’m not too sure what it is that they dented.
“I’m not going to fall into that trick of playing the mind games, I’m not a mind games person. The game is going to be played between four lines.
“If Gatland is talking about the egos, he doesn’t really know much about us as South Africans.
“So I’m not going to go deep on that. Let’s wait and see after the game tomorrow.
“Hopefully we can give the people a good show of rugby.
“We know they are going to be tough, we know they are going to be physical.
“So once again, when it comes the ego, we’ll see the egos between the four lines.”
The Lions series will finally get under way on Saturday amid an increasingly tense off-field backdrop, with the tourists frustrated by South African Marius Jonker acting as Television Match Official (TMO).
Lions boss Gatland was understood to be furious when discovering Jonker’s role on Wednesday, after New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill was forced to withdraw due to Covid-related travel trouble.
Forwards coach Robin McBryde revealed however that Saturday’s officials told the Lions of their confidence of neutral refereeing.
“We met the three officials who are officiating on the weekend,” said McBryde.
“We went through everything that’s happened to date.
“They were reluctant to pass any opinion on what’s happened.
“They’re aware of it and they’re confident in the comms they’ll have on the weekend that between the four of them, they’ll come to the right decision.
“The impression I got really was that they wanted to move on and that they trust in their own decisions and communications and the understanding between the three of them, so hopefully that will come to the fore on the weekend.”