Emotions will be running high when the British & Irish Lions visit South Africa this summer looking to avenge a narrow loss from 12 years ago.
Since then, they have prevailed 2-1 in Australia and played out a thrilling tied series against the All Blacks in New Zealand.
Looking at the current strength of each team, Warren Gatland’s men get the nod to triumph over three Tests at 4/6 for the first of our Lions Tour 2021 predictions.
A Look At the British & Irish Lions’ Betting Odds
Gatland suffered a major setback when captain Alun Wyn Jones was ruled out due to a dislocated shoulder suffered just seven minutes into a 28-10 warm-up victory over Japan at Murrayfield.
Ireland scrum-half Conor Murray is a leftfield replacement, with more obvious contenders such as Owen Farrell, Maro Itoje and Ken Owens overlooked.
However, the 32-year-old started all three matches against New Zealand in 2017 and provides excellent game management and pinpoint kicking.
“Conor is an outstanding rugby player and is held in the highest regard with both the players and coaches,” declared Gatland.
“As a three-time Lions tourist, he knows what will be required as captain and I’m certain he will lead the squad with excellence.
“He will also be well supported by an experienced leadership group.”
Alongside him in the squad is the usual mix of battle-hardened veterans, mercurial game-changers and the odd exciting wildcard, like 20-year-old Wales winger Louis Rees-Zammit.
A Look At South Africa’s Betting Odds
Questions have been raised over the viability of the tour with South Africa experiencing a third wave of Covid-19 infections.
The Springboks themselves have been affected, with three players testing positive and the entire squad consequently having to isolate as a precaution.
However, coach Jacques Nienaber stated: “There is not a player that doesn’t want to participate in this tour because it is such a special tour.
“It only comes around maybe once every 12 years and you would be lucky as a Springbok to participate in it once in your career.
“So, everyone is trying their best to stay virus-free, Covid-free, to stay within the boundaries.
“I don’t think you can completely take away all risks but the precautions the people have taken to keep us as safe as possible are magical.
“We are operating as normal within our environment, or as normal as it can be.”
Nienaber has replaced Rassie Erasmus since he led South Africa to Rugby World Cup glory in Japan a couple of years ago.
Key performers such as Siya Kolisi, Eben Etzebeth, Faf de Klerk and Handre Pollard remain from the side which beat England 32-12 in the Yokohama final.
A lack of recent activity and the absence of home fans will hurt them, though, and we’re taking 4/5 for an away win in the first Test in Cape Town on July 24 for our Lions Tour 2021 betting tips.
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