The British and Irish Lions have been assured by the officials overseeing tomorrow's first Test against the Springboks that the correct decisions will be made despite the appointment of a South African television match official.
Warren Gatland is known to be furious that the neutrality of the officiating team has been compromised after Marius Jonker was chosen to replace New Zealand’s Brendon Pickerill, who withdraw due to coronavirus-related travel issues.
Gatland and his coaching lieutenants met with Australian referee Nic Berry on Thursday to discuss any concerns ahead of the series, which begins at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
Complicating Jonker’s appointment is the fact that he was the TMO for the South Africa 'A' game last week when Faf de Klerk was shown only a yellow card despite making contact with the head of Josh Navidi.
The Lions felt that de Klerk, the Springboks’ star scrum-half, should have been sent off for the first-half incident and they have strong misgivings that Jonker is in place for the critical opening clash between the rivals.
"It was a bit unexpected. We only found out on Wednesday. There’s a slight lack of foresight because there’s a reason why that position is neutral. There’s no plan B put in place. You’ve just got to get on with it really," forwards coach Robin McBryde said.
"We met the three officials who are officiating on the weekend. We went through everything that’s happened up 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 role of the TMO….his say is pretty final with regards to communication between him and the referee. It’s a very important position. I’m sure there will be no issues on the weekend.
"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."
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