The British and Irish Lions will meet the Sharks for a second time in four days after the Bulls were prevented from playing at Loftus Versfeld on Saturday because of an outbreak of coronavirus.
The Lions won the first fixture 54-7 in an eight-try romp at Emirates Airline Park on Wednesday night, but the Sharks have been identified as the only team able to step in at short notice.
“The choice of the Sharks was dictated by the fact that they have been in a bubble, have returned negative tests throughout and were prepared to take on the fixture,” SA Rugby chief executive Jurie Roux said.
“No other team in the country could meet those conditions right now – without going into a five-day lockdown. It is not an ideal situation, but Covid has made sure that we do not live in an ideal world.”
The Lions have released no further details of the Covid status of their squad after nine players and five members of staff were forced to self-isolate at the team hotel on Wednesday.
A player and one of Warren Gatland’s management team produced positive tests, forcing an additional 12 personnel into quarantine. The Sharks fixture is subject to the Lions being able to field a team.
“We’re very grateful to the Sharks for agreeing to play us again this Saturday at Loftus Versfeld,” Lions managing director Ben Calveley said.
“We have further Covid testing scheduled for today (Thursday) and tomorrow. The results of those tests will determine whether we will be able fulfil this fixture, but, as it stands, we are optimistic.
“We remain committed to the tour in South Africa and determined to rise to the challenges created by the Covid pandemic.”