The Springboks, who are currently putting in the hard yards on the training field in Bloemfontein in the second week of their conditioning camp, will return to the international arena for the first time since the 2019 Rugby World Cup final when they line up against Georgia in back-to-back Tests on 2 and 9 July respectively.

They will then turn their attention to the Castle Lager Lions Series, which features a match between the South Africa 'A' team and the Lions on Wednesday, 14 July, and three Tests on Saturday, 24 and 31 July, and 7 August respectively.

“We have to be at our best in all departments against the British & Irish Lions,” said Stick, who lined up against the tourists in a mid-week game for the Southern Kings in 2009.

“In each of the positions in the team they have the best players from the UK, and even the players on their bench will be world class, so our work rate must be massive.

“Their aerial skills are good and so are their breakdowns, so they will present a tough challenge, and the northern hemisphere teams in general are very physical.

“There won’t be weaknesses we can capitalise on. But this is a challenge we are looking forward to and we are excited about it.”

Stick, who said they Tests against Georgia and the SA 'A' game would form a vital part of their preparation for the Tests. He also responded to suggestions that the limited time for the Springboks to prepare for the Series could give the visitors an edge: “The last time we played as a team was in the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, and the last time the British & Irish Lions played was in 2017, so we cannot say that we are at a disadvantage.

“A lot of players in our squad are playing overseas and they are playing week-in and week-out in tough and physical competitions. The Japanese based players have played eight to 10 games in the last few months and the local guys have also been playing every week, so we are in a good place.”

Lukhanyo Am at Springbok training in Bloemfontein earlier in the week.

Lukhanyo Am at Springbok training in Bloemfontein earlier in the week.

Stick was excited about the dynamic the uncapped players brought to training and the squad in and general, and he said their presence was in line with one of the team’s main objectives of building depth.

“Having young blood in the group brings new energy,” Stick said of the introduction of uncapped backs such as Wandisile Simelane (centre), Aphelele Fassi (fullback), Sanele Nohamba (scrumhalf), Rosko Specman and Yaw Penxe (both wings).

“There is a good balance in the team with a lot of senior players leading by example. One of the main goals of our team is to build depth.

“The new players have been asking the senior players good questions and they have really engaged with them.”

Springbok midfielder Lukhanyo Am was equally excited about the young talent in the squad – three of whom play with him for the Cell C Sharks.

“I’m very happy for guys like Aphelele, Sanele and Yaw," said Am.

"They have showed how talented they are, and it will be a big deal for them to part of a historic series like this. I am excited to see them on the field.”

The hard running centre embraced the competition for places in the midfield within the squad and said: “The competition will always be there, and there is strong competition (amongst the players) in camp, but we are all working together.

“We are not here for ourselves, we are here for our country, so we try to help and encourage one another all the time.”