AUDIO: Lions banking on Bok reinforcements

Mon, 02 Apr 2018 18:38

INJURY UPDATE: The Lions are banking on the return of a number of Springboks ahead of their crucial South African derby encounter with the Stormers.

The Lions - who suffered their third loss of the season when  the Crusaders beat then 14-8 this past weekend - host the Stormers at Ellis Park this coming Saturday.

Like the Lions, the Stormers are coming off a disappointing loss.

The Lions are still seven points clear of the Stormers and Sharks (both on 13 points), in the SA conference race, but neither can afford to suffer any further defeats.

Lions coach Swys de Bruin said he is "hopeful" of having at least some of his injured Boks back for this week's crunch encounter.

Captain Warren Whiteley, who has been sidelined for a month with a posterior cruciate ligament injury, tops the list of Boks who could be back in the selection frame this week.

Bok wing Ruan Combrinck, who underwent shoulder surgery in October last year, is also back in the fray.

Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who suffered a knee injury last month, might be close to a return as well.

There is concern over the rib injury that has been keeping Bok scrumhalf Ross Cronje for the last few weeks.

A verdict is expected on Tuesday, but there has been a suggestion he might be sidelined from another six to eight weeks.

The Lions coach, who said he is not a guy for excuses, admitted that the absence of a host if Boks impacted on the team's ability to pull tight games through.

"We had six Springboks, who featured in the Final last year, that did not play in this match," De Bruin said after the loss to the Crusaders.

"[The likes of Jaco] Kriel, [Warren] Whiteley, Courtnall [Skosan], [Ruan] Combrinck, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Ross [Cronje] - those are guys that make a massive difference.

"All the guys who stood in did well," he said, adding: "Not one of the guys who filled in for the Springboks played badly and that for me is great."

De Bruin described the weekend's encounter with the Super Rugby defending champions as a "Test match".

While his team failed to make the most of their opportunities, he felt the Lions showed "massive improvement" on defence from the previous weeks.

"It was am arm-wrestle right to the end," the coach said.

"It [the defeat] is frustrating, because we want to win.

"For me it is about the character and how you lose.

"I can't stand it if we don't play well and lose.

"However, if you play well and lose like this match, you have to shake hands with the opposition and say 'well done'- that is sport.

De Bruin pointed to his team's position on the standings.

They are second, behind the Rebels. Both teams are on 20 points, with the Rebels' superior points difference separating them.

"I know you will say we still have to tour, but we enjoy touring.

"We are on 20 points and the next best South African teams are both on 13 points.

"It [defeat] is not the end of the world yet and that [losing] bonus point might make a massive difference.

"It's not nice to lose, but we have to get over it and focus on the Stormers. Every game is big, but that [playing the Stormers] is another big game.

"They are coming off a loss and we have had a few bumps on the road.

"We are not going to give in. I know the character of this group."

@rugby365com

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Sun, 22 April 2018
Racing Metro v Munster 14h15 Paris
Fri, 27 April 2018
Munster v Ulster 22h00 Thomond Park
Kings v Cheetahs 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Treviso v Zebre 22h00 Stadio Monigo
Dragons v Scarlets 22h00 Rodney Parade
Edinburgh v Glasgow Warriors 22h00 Myreside
Cardiff Blues v Ospreys 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Connacht v Leinster 22h00 Sportsground
Worcester Warriors v Harlequins 22h00 Sixways
Wasps v Northampton Saints 22h00 Ricoh Arena
London Irish v Saracens 22h00 Madejski Stadium
Leicester Tigers v Newcastle Falcons 22h00 Welford Road
Gloucester v Bath 22h00 Kingsholm
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 22h00 Sandy Park
Hurricanes v Sunwolves 07h35 Wellington
Stormers v Rebels 13h00 Newlands
Sat, 28 April 2018
Reds v Lions 05h05 Suncorp Stadium
Blues v Jaguares 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Crusaders 09h45 Canberra
Bulls v Highlanders 15h15 Loftus Versfeld
RESULT SCORE
Sun, 22 April 2018
Brumbies v Jaguares 20 | 25
Sat, 21 April 2018
Ulster v Glasgow Warriors 36 | 15
Zebre v Ospreys 37 | 14
Sharks v Stormers 24 | 17
Leinster v Scarlets 38 | 16
Bulls v Rebels 28 | 10
Reds v Chiefs 12 | 36
Crusaders v Sunwolves 33 | 11
Fri, 20 April 2018
Waratahs v Lions 0 | 29
Blues v Highlanders 16 | 34
Sun, 15 April 2018
Saracens v Bath 41 | 6
London Irish v Exeter Chiefs 5 | 45
Sat, 14 April 2018
Leinster v Treviso 15 | 17
Kings v Cardiff Blues 12 | 45
Sharks v Bulls 10 | 40
SUPER RUGBY
MORE LOGS
Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 8 5 1 2 24
Rebels 7 4 0 3 21
Brumbies 8 3 0 5 15
Reds 8 3 0 5 13
Sunwolves 8 0 0 8 2
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 8 6 0 2 29
Hurricanes 7 6 0 1 27
Highlanders 7 5 0 2 24
Chiefs 8 6 0 2 26
Blues 7 2 0 5 12
Pool SA
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 9 6 0 3 30
Bulls 8 4 0 4 19
Sharks 9 3 1 5 18
Stormers 9 3 0 6 14
Jaguares 7 3 0 4 12