Lions hope to avoid injury pitfalls

Fri, 10 Feb 2017 17:56

PRE-SEASON SPOTLIGHT: Lions coach Johan Ackermann is using his team's trip to Newlands on Saturday as a last chance to experiment.

However, his biggest worry, when they tackle the Stormers, is the possibility that his team will suffer injuries ahead of the Super Rugby season.

He admitted the team named to run out at Newlands is the core of what he feels will be their Super Rugby squad.

"It is great to have everybody together again," he said of the return of a host of his Japan-based players.

"However, the biggest challenge of these pre-season games is to come through injury free."

He added they also need to give game time to players who have not played with the team this year - after a virtual Under-21 team featured in the first preseason outing against the Bulls in Harare and mostly fringe player were used in last week's clash with an invitation XV.

"Our Japan players only returned last week," Ackermann told rugby365, adding: "It is important that the players play together again and the combinations gel again - game time is the key.

"You can only train so much, then you have to see how the player reacts under pressure and then you have a base to work from.

"The Stormers have shown some good form [in pre-season] and they will be a good test."

He said the conditioning of his overseas-based players is "mostly fine", but they were all afforded an additional a week off.

There are a couple of minor injury issues.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley had his wisdom teeth removed this week and could not recover on time.

Springbok centre Lionel Mapoe will miss the encounter due to a hamstring strain.

"Lionel, in training last week, felt his hamstring tighten up," Ackermann told rugby365, adding: "We are not going to risk him this weekend.

"However, for the rest - like Franco [Mostert], Warren [Whiteley], Jaco [Kriel] and Elton [Jantjies] all look fit. It doesn't look like they are carrying any niggles from their stint in Japan."

There are two positions that differ significantly from last year's regulars - at lock and on the flanks.

"Franco [Mostert] was used in both roles [No.4 and No.5] at the Springboks last year," the coach said.

"We want to see how the combination [of Marvin Orie and Franco Mostert] work. They are both good at calling line-outs, which is good for us.

"Andries [Ferreira] can come on and we can move Franco back to No.5. We also want Marvin to get a feeling of our structures. For a new player, it is important to get that first game behind you - that will feel him part of the group."

Loose forward is the one position where Ackermann faces a big poser.

The retirement of Warwick Tecklenburg means the highly successful trio of that include Boks Jaco Kriel (on the bench for this game) and Warren Whiteley (not playing this week) has been broken up.

"The result is not that important for us, Ackermann said, adding: "We want to test some players.

"You can't expect Jaco, after he played a full 80-minute game a just last week, to come in and play an 80-minute [pre-season] game.

"We have to give the young players a chance to play under pressure.

"Also, these guys have worked hard in the off-season and they must be rewarded. They must show what they can do and then we have the luxury of, when Jaco comes on, he can help with the on-field leadership.

"If you look at our bench, the guys who will come on in the second half are very young and it will be good for Jaco to give some leadership there."

Ackermann said they won't attribute specific roles to the flanks.

"Every play must play towards his strengths. Cyle [Brink] is just as good a ball carrier as any other player. Jaco [Kriel] was always criticised about his size, yet he is one of our best ball carriers.

"Between the three of them they just have to play within our game plan, both on attack and defence - each one has his own strengths."

Teams:

Stormers squad: Juarno Augustus, Nizaam Carr, Jaco Coetzee, Juan de Jongh, Dan du Plessis, Jean-Luc du Plessis, Robert du Preez, Dewaldt Duvenage, Rynhardt Elstadt, JC Janse van Rensburg, Cheslin Kolbe, Siyamthanda Kolisi, Dan Kriel, Dillyn Leyds, Wilco Louw, Frans Malherbe, Sarel Marais, Bongi Mbonambi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Caylib Oosthuizen, Ramone Samuels, JD Schickerling, Chris van Zyl, Jano Vermaak, EW Viljoen, Cobus Wiese, Damian Willemse, Eduard Zandberg, Leolin Zas.

Lions: 15 Jaco van der Walt, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Francois de Klerk, 8 Fabian Booysen, 7 Ruan Ackermann, 6 Cyle Brink, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Franco Mostert, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Malcolm Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen.
Replacements - from: Armand van der Merwe, Corne Fourie, Hencus van Wyk, Andries Ferreira, Lourens Erasmus, Robert Kruger, Jaco Kriel, Victor Sekekete, Dillon Smit, Andries Coetzee, Harold Vorster, Anthony Volmink, Jacques Nel, Sylvian Mahuza.

Date: Saturday, February 11
Venue: Newlands, Cape Town
Kick-off: 15.00 (13.00 GMT)
Referee: Jaco van Heerden

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

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Sat, 24 February 2018
Sunwolves v Brumbies 04h15 Tokyo
Crusaders v Chiefs 06h35 Christchurch
Waratahs v Stormers 08h45 Allianz Park
Treviso v Connacht 12h00 Stadio Monigo
Lions v Jaguares 13h05 Johannesburg
Exeter Chiefs v Northampton Saints 14h00 Sandy Park
Ireland v Wales 14h15 Aviva Stadium
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 14h30 Twickenham Stoop
Gloucester v Wasps 14h30 Kingsholm
Bath v Sale Sharks 14h30 Recreation Ground
Bulls v Hurricanes 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
Scotland v England 16h45 BT Murrayfield
Ospreys v Cheetahs 17h30 Liberty Stadium
Scarlets v Ulster 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sun, 25 February 2018
Zebre v Cardiff Blues 13h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
London Irish v Worcester Warriors 13h00 Madejski Stadium
Saracens v Leicester Tigers 15h30 Allianz Park
Fri, 02 March 2018
Blues v Chiefs 06h35 Eden Park
Reds v Brumbies 09h00 Suncorp Stadium
Kings v Dragons 17h35 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Edinburgh v Munster 19h35 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 19h35 Cardiff Arms Park
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 19h35 Kingspan Stadium
Harlequins v Bath 19h45 Twickenham Stoop
Sat, 03 March 2018
Sunwolves v Rebels 22h00 Tokyo
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Fri, 23 February 2018
France v Italy 34 | 17
Leinster v Kings 64 | 7
Dragons v Edinburgh 12 | 25
Munster v Glasgow Warriors 21 | 10
Rebels v Reds 45 | 19
Highlanders v Blues 41 | 34
Mon, 19 February 2018
NWU-Pukke v UJ 18 | 15
Maties v CUT-Ixias 75 | 12
UCT-Ikeys v Shimlas 27 | 32
NMMU-Madibaz v Wits 29 | 32
Sun, 18 February 2018
Dragons v Treviso 15 | 18
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13 | 7
Sat, 17 February 2018
Cardiff Blues v Munster 25 | 18
Lions v Sharks 26 | 19
Leinster v Scarlets 20 | 13
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
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Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Sunwolves 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 1 0 0 1 0
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Highlanders 1 1 0 0 4
Blues 1 0 0 1 1
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 1 1 0 0 4
Lions 1 1 0 0 4
Sharks 1 0 0 1 1
Bulls 0 0 0 0 0
Jaguares 1 0 0 1 0