WARREN GATLAND stuck it to the scheming Springboks by taking a swipe at star player Faf de Klerk and fake waterboy Rassie Erasmus.
The Lions chief fired-up the mammoth upcoming Test series by saying that De Klerk should have been red-carded for headbutting Josh Navidi and questioned boss Erasmus’ bizarre waterboy act on Wednesday night.
There is also a crunch referees’ meeting today that will give the Lions another chance to bring up De Klerk’s illegal hit during the clash.
Gatland, whose side went down 17-13 to South Africa A, said: “I can’t understand the comments that there was no contact to the head.
“Someone was watching a different picture to me.
“I thought it looked reckless. No arms and he’s hit the arm first and then the shoulder, but there’s definitely head-onhead contact.
“The officials saw it differently and you’ve got to roll with that.
“We’ve got a meeting with the referees to get a bit of clarity on that. What we want is consistency.
“It will be interesting to see what the referees come back with and what other people who have looked at it come back with in terms of the recommendations were for that incident.”
If Sale Sharks scrum-half De Klerk was cited then he would have definitely missed the First Test.
But that was not the only controversial moment in the Lions’ first Boks encounter.
Gatland also questioned Erasmus’ behaviour for pretending to be a waterboy and holding his team’s hand.
With head coach Jacques Nienaber isolating after catching Covid, director of rugby Erasmus took the strange option to stick on his tracksuit and become a waterboy.
Bemused Gatland said: “I didn’t understand what his role was. You don’t run on to the pitch giving messages as the waterboy without carrying water.”
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Erasmus has been poking the Lions at every opportunity but they have yet to bite.
All this week he has been banging on about the need to play Gatland’s tourists again to help the Boks get properly prepared for the Test series which starts a week tomorrow.
Erasmus also wildly claimed it would be the safest option for the two rivals to play each other and the Lions should not be scared.
But Gatland added: “I don’t see it as our role to prepare them for the Test series. I think he was trying to wind us up saying we’re scared.”
As planned, the Lions take on The Stormers tomorrow with Marcus Smith starting at fly-half. Gatland also revealed that up to 70 per cent of the Test spots are still up for grabs.
Just hours after landing in South Africa Alun Wyn Jones was also named on the bench despite dislocating his shoulder just 20 days ago.
Gatland said: “We felt that if he was going to be in contention next week then he needed to have a hit-out and prove 100 per cent that he is fit and ready to go. He needs 20 minutes.
“If someone comes off early, he’s ready to go.
“We’ve been looking very closely at a number of videos of the Welsh training sessions he has taken a part in.
“If the medical team hadn’t passed him fully fit, he wouldn’t be here.”
Fit-again Robbie Henshaw starts at centre, but fly-half Dan Biggar misses out with an ankle problem.
Scotland skipper Stuart Hogg was also back to captain the side after completing a seven-day coronavirus quarantine in Johannesburg.
And the Scotland full-back added: “It was challenging at times. I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy. Honestly, it was a horrendous few days.”