The British and Irish Lions are confident that referee Ben O’Keeffe will not be influenced by Rassie Erasmus’ extraordinary attack on the officials from the first Test as they aim to seal a series victory over South Africa on Saturday.
Warren Gatland’s tourists have reacted to Erasmus’ unprecedented 62-minute critique of the performance of Nic Berry at Cape Town Stadium last Saturday by launching a charm offensive.
Erasmus, the Springboks’ director of rugby, posted a video online in which he accused Berry of showing Siya Kolisi less respect than his opposite number, Lions captain Alun Wyn Jones.
The mastermind of South Africa’s 2019 World Cup triumph used 26 clips to highlight perceived mistakes and inconsistencies from Berry, who is an assistant for the potentially decisive second Test at Cape Town Stadium on Saturday.
The Lions, however, have adopted a more diplomatic approach on the eve of a clash that could elevate them alongside the triumphant tours of 1974 and 1997.
“We had a good meeting with the referees yesterday (Thursday). As Ben O’Keeffe said himself, we’re aware there’s a lot of stuff out there on social media etc but that’s not going to affect anything,” forwards coach Robin McBryde said.
“That’s just a sideshow. We had a positive discussion with the referee. Everyone realises they’re in a tough place. They’ve got a tough job to do.
“But we were really happy with Nic Berry last Saturday and I don’t think it will be any different this weekend either.
“On Ben we have no issues. He is a top man and we are looking forward to working with him on Saturday.”