Prop poser for Lions
Prop poser for LionsSHARE
The Lions, still reeling from losing their head coach last week, may well be without their two top props when the Super Rugby season resumes this week.
Johan Ackermann, one of the two assistant coaches who will take over from suspended head coach John Mitchell, revealed that Springbok CJ van der Linde (hamstring) and Bok training squad member Pat Cilliers (calf) were injured when the Lions squad returned to training last week.
After a three-week break during the June Test window, the Lions will travel to Cape Town on Saturday to take on the Stormers – before completing their troubled season with fixtures against the Rebels (in Johannesburg) and Bulls (in Pretoria).
Having already been consigned to last place in the South African conference, but hoping to avoid propping up the global table, the Lions need to repeat the giant killing act that saw them topple the Sharks (38-28) just before the break.
However, should they loose both props to injury, they will face a tall order against the SA Conference leaders, the Stormers, at Newlands.
"We will make a final call on CJ [van der Linde] by Thursday," Ackermann told this website, holding out hope that the veteran Bok prop could still play against the Stormers – whom he was contracted to before moving to Johannesburg last year.
"However, Pat [Cilliers] is definitely out," he said, adding: "It is a big setback for him, as he has been playing some good rugby."
Ackermann said there is a good chance Cilliers could be back to face the Rebels next week.
"We will take it [the injury] on a week-by-week basis.
"A calf injury is always a tricky problem, but the doctor feels that he could be back by next week."
He said the two props are the only players who were involved in the win over the Sharks that are injured – with the rest of the group from that game all available.
Springbok centre Waylon Murray, who was on the bench against the Sharks after a lengthy injury lay-off, is in the frame to start this week, while scrumhalf Michael Bondesio is also available again.
The nuggety No.9 is the only one of the previously injured players who could come into the matchday 22.
Ackermann said that Van der Linde is not fit, then Jacobie Adriaanse] and JC Janse van Rensburg will start, alongside Callie Visagie, in the front row.
The former Bok lock said the team will be playing for "pride and honour" in their remaining matches.
"We want to finish on a high, maintain that momentum and try to play the quality of rugby we produced before the break, against the Sharks," Ackermann said, adding: "We have honour and respect to play for and those are our goals.
"We would also like to sort out a few combinations for the Currie Cup."
By Jan de Koning