Innovative Lions coping with injuries

Tue, 11 Jul 2017 10:48

INJURY UPDATE: The Lions received a timely boost with the return to fitness of three key players ahead of the final round of Super Rugby league action.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking to rugby365 ahead of their trip to Durban and an encounter with the Sharks on Saturday, confirmed that utility back Jaco van der Walt and Springbok centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg both came through the provincial challenge match at the weekend - when the Golden Lions lost 21-33 to Griquas.

On top of that hooker Robbie Coetzee has served his five-week ban for striking - the result of an incident in their 54-10 thrashing of the Southern Kings back in May.

Coetzee, who took exception to the constant niggling by Kings flank Chris Cloete, was shown a red card by referee Jaco Peyper in the 31st minute - after he lost control over his senses and struck his opponent in the head with his knee.

Janse van Rensburg suffered a knee injury in his team's impressive win against the Stormers at Newlands in April.

Van der Walt has been sidelined for a couple of months, after undergoing foot surgery.

The Lions are still missing a few key players - most notably regular captain Warren Whiteley, who is working his way back from having suffered a torn ligament in his pelvis ahead of the third and final Test against France last month.

There are also two long-term injuries in prop Dylan Smith and midfielder Howard Mnisi, who will not be available for the rest of the season.

Ackermann said they are coping with the loss of their inspirational leader by being innovative.

He had previously stated they remain "hopeful" Whiteley would be back sooner than the predicted six-to-eight-week lay-off.

"It will be touch-and-go [for him to return before the end of the season]," Ackermann told rugby365.

"It is five weeks to the [Super Rugby7] Final and he [Whiteley] is doing everything possible to recover. He has physio twice a day and is keeping up with the rehabilitation.

"Only time will tell.

"Obviously the team has to keep up their side - the further we progress in the competition the better the chance of Warren returning.

"However, at the moment we are planning that he is not available."

Ackermann said Whiteley's presence and leadership - despite not being able to train or play - still makes him a valuable asset.

"We will miss his workrate, which is sometimes double that of other players," the coach said, adding: "That said, it is a good challenge for Jaco Kriel, who has been great every time he has stepped in to lead the team in Warren's absence.

"Also, for the other loose forwards it is a challenge to put their hands up and show they can step up.

"Obviously there is his leadership and workrate, but his value in the line-outs means we have to make some adjustments.

"Against the Sunwolves Jaco Kriel and Kwagga [Albertus Smith] did a great job for us.

"The Sharks bring different challenges. They are good on the ball and strong at the breakdown."

The Lions mentor said combinations are not a big issue for them.

"It is more about what the individuals bring and how they perform.

"They all come a long way with the team and we have rotated them in during training and they are familiar with what we want to do.

"Also, do not underestimate Kwagga and Jaco Kriel. We have done a lot of work with them.

"They are perhaps not the tallest, but if two tall guys lift them and they are quick on the ground, you can also win your ball."

By Jan de Koning

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Fri, 29 September 2017
Sharks v Golden Lions 17h00 Durban
Worcester Warriors v Saracens 18h35 Sixways
Newcastle Falcons v London Irish 18h35 Kingston Park
Sale Sharks v Gloucester 19h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Leinster v Edinburgh 19h35 RDS Arena
Glasgow Warriors v Treviso 19h35 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Connacht 19h35 Parc y Scarlets
Sat, 30 September 2017
Griquas v Free State Cheetahs 12h00 Kimberley
Leicester Tigers v Exeter Chiefs 13h00 Welford Road
Munster v Cardiff Blues 13h30 Thomond Park
Cheetahs v Ospreys 14h00 Bloemfontein
Northampton Saints v Harlequins 14h00 Franklin's Gardens
Wasps v Bath 14h00 Ricoh Arena
Zebre v Ulster 14h35 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
South Africa v Australia 15h05 Bloemfontein
Dragons v Kings 18h35 Rodney Parade
Sun, 01 October 2017
Argentina v New Zealand 22h30 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Blue Bulls v Western Province 12h30 Loftus Versfeld
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 15 6 0 9 34
Force 15 6 0 9 26
Reds 15 4 0 11 21
Waratahs 15 4 0 11 19
Rebels 15 1 1 13 9
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 15 14 0 1 63
Hurricanes 15 12 0 3 58
Chiefs 15 12 1 2 57
Highlanders 15 11 0 4 51
Blues 15 7 1 7 37
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 15 10 0 5 43
Cheetahs 15 4 0 11 21
Bulls 15 4 0 11 20
Sunwolves 15 2 0 13 12
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 15 14 0 1 65
Sharks 15 9 1 5 42
Jaguares 15 7 0 8 33
Kings 15 6 0 9 28