The rivalry between the British and Irish Lions and South Africa is heating up ahead of the Lions' tour next month, with one South African rugby writer suggesting Warren Gatland's team is "a joke".
Gatland announced his Lions squad last week, which included plenty of surprises like the omissions of Irish captain Jonathan Sexton and England No 8 Billy Vunipola.
The UK Telegraph labelled the squad a "shock", while columnist Gavin Mairs said the selection of Sam Simmonds, who has consistently been overlooked by England, over Kyle Sinckler was a "slap in the face for Eddie Jones".
South African rugby scribe Mark Keohane went one step further, labelling the recently announced Lions captain and Welsh great Alun Wyn Jones an "overhyped plodder".
Keohane didn't stop there, saying the Lions squad picked by Gatland would struggle to beat the world champion Springboks in their three test series.
He even mocked the live television broadcast of the team naming, which beamed a hologram of Jones into the TV studio like "Star Trek".
"It was funny, but not as funny as Gatland's Lions squad, which many critics felt was a joke," Keohane wrote for the Independent Online.
"If the virtual Jones, the hologram, is something from the future, then Jones, the real thing, is something from a playing past that is far more glorious than the plodder who will lead the Lions into battle against the world champion Springboks.
"Jones, his 159 games making him the game's most capped international, should be on pension. His Six Nations performances are overhyped. He was picked on past glories and because of familiarity, having played a decade of test rugby for Wales under Gatland.
"He wouldn't be in the top 10 locks in world rugby. He is well past his best and while his tenacity and longevity is to be admired and applauded, his playing pedigree isn't what it was. He is a pensioner in locking terms, and it will turn nasty for him on the field."
Keohane also wrote off the Lions' ability to match the physicality of the Springboks.
"The rallying cry from within the Lions rugby fraternity is that Gatland is fighting fire with fire, bringing beasts to the republic to conquer the world champion Springboks. But I disagree. Gatland has picked hobbits to be giant slayers, and he has far too many Neville Nobodies in his squad of 37."
The opinionated columnist did express his respect for the proud history of the Lions, but he feared for the 2021 version of the tour.
"Appreciate the tour and bow to the occasion, but don't put Captain Plod on a pedestal and don't add to the delusion that this is a team of world-beaters. The famed Lions travelling red army won't be in the trenches to help these 'nearly men' in red playing jerseys grow an extra arm and leg.
"The Lions are in for a whipping before the kick-off in the first test against the Springboks. There is some class among the Lions, with England lock Maro Itoje, the only Lions player I'd pick in a Springboks starting XV.
"Itoje is arguably the best lock in the world, and what a statement it would have made to the majority of South Africans to have a black player lead the Lions in South Africa.
"It would have shattered any perceptions that the Lions are pasty lads from the smaller isles of Britain. We know they aren't that, and historically you only have to go back to 1974 to know that these lads can play and can physically front the biggest South African man mountain. But that was 1974."
Keohane wasn't the only one to put his foot into the Lions, with Irish Independent scribe Eamonn Sweeney taking aim at Gatland for naming the lowest amount of Ireland players in 20 years.
"Warren Gatland's Lions selection isn't just an insult to Irish rugby, it's an insult to the intelligence," Sweeney wrote in the Irish Independent.
"Its weird combination of hubris and whimsicality suggests the New Zealander is so convinced of victory over a South African team which hasn't played since 2019 he feels able to indulge himself.
"Ireland's eight player representation is our lowest since 2001. Making this particularly galling is that England have more than anyone else after a year in which they suffered comprehensive defeats against the other three home nations."