Lions to leave their 'x-factor' at home

Mon, 06 Mar 2017 15:02

IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Lions coach Johan Ackermann will take his 'best available' team to Argentina, but his 'x-factor' player will stay behind.

The Lions, second on the Super Rugby standings after two rounds, head to Buenos Aires this week - where they will take on the very dangerous Jaguares on Saturday.

And the Lions coach said he won't repeat the 'mistake' made in the final round of league action last year - when he sent a B-team to Argentina to rest his frontline players for the play-offs.

However, Springbok centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who scored two tries in the 55-36 win over the Waratahs this past weekend despite his mother's death just three days before, will not make the trip across the Atlantic Ocean.

"Rohan has that x-factor," Ackermann told a media briefing, when asked about the young Bok's heroics in the win over the Tahs.

"We were humbled by what he went through and the way he conducted himself," Ackermann said, adding: "It was his choice [to play] and we never doubted his commitment to the team.

"To put those emotions aside and play like he did shows his character.

"We support him all the way and the players, before the match, said we are going to do it for mom as well."

However, with his mom's funeral on Wednesday, Janse van Rensburg will not travel to Argentina.

"We will let him have his time with his family and we must trust the rest of the squad to do the job," the coach said.

Ackermann said he will take the "best possible side" on tour.

"We have thought about it [resting players], but it is too early in the season.

"We haven't really built up any momentum yet."

Ackermann said they will have to 'reset' this week, because there is a different challenge that lies ahead - with the travelling and the quality of the opposition.

"The Jaguares are a different kettle of fish," Lions captain Warren Whiteley said.

"The Argentineans are a physical team - at scrum time, maul time and at the rucks.

"They are a team that play on passion.

"The first 20 minutes are going to be really important.

They are a team that comes out firing, especially at home.

"If you give them a sniff, they will expose that."

@rugby365com

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