Stokkies blow for Lions
Stokkies blow for LionsSHARE
The Golden Lions were dealt a cruel blow with the news that talented midfielder Nicolaas Hanekom will miss at least a month of Currie Cup action.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann confirmed on Tuesday that Hanekom, affectionately known as Stokkies, will be sidelined for at least four weeks, maybe longer – with a shoulder injury and also a knee problem.
This follows after another talented midfielder, Alwyn Hollenbach, went under the knife on Tuesday for a long-standing foot injury.
Ackermann made a number of changes to his team.
Rookie Robert de Bruyn, who made his Currie Cup debut off the bench in the one-point loss to the Cheetahs last week, moves to No.13 in place of Hanekom.
Lionel Cronje comes onto the bench in the spot vacated by the 22-year-old De Bruyn's promotion.
Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies start at No.10, with Marnitz Boshoff moving to fullback in place of Crysander Botha – who drops down to the bench.
At lock Chris van Zyl starts in place of Stephan Greeff. and Jaco Kriel, returns in place of Warwick Tecklenburg.
* Meanwhile Ackermann also had some good news this week, with the confirmation of veteran hooker Willie Wepener's return to Ellis Park.
The 32-year-old completed his transfer from the Blue Bulls to the Lions on Tuesday.
He had two previous stints with the Lions – 2002 to 2004 and 2006 to 2009 – in which he played 46 Currie Cup matches and earned 40 Super Rugby caps.
"He joined us today [Tuesday]," Ackermann told this website, adding: "But we are playing on Friday so he wasn't considered for this week.
"However, he will come up for selection form next week," Ackermann said of Wepener's return to the Lions.
"We have good depth in the front row now, with four hookers who have played Currie Cup rugby.
"There's some strong competition among the hookers, but it is a great position to be in [as a coach].
"Given that we lost Callie [Visagie to the Bulls], it is great that we got a player with so much experience," he said of the front row forward with over 200 first class matches to his credit – including stints with the Leopards, Griquas, Clermont in France and more recently the Bulls.
The arrival of Wepener comes in the wake of the arrival of other seasoned forwards like prop Jacobus Roux and lock Martin Muller – who will be with the team for the remainder of the Currie Cup, even though they haven't featured in the matchday 22 in the opening rounds.
Golden Lions: 15 Marnitz Boshoff, 14 Deon Helberg, 13 Robert De Bruin, 12 Dylan Des Fountain, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Guy Cronje, 8 Willie Britz, 7 Derick Minnie (captain), 6 Jaco Kriel, 5 Hugo Kloppers, 4 Chris van Zyl, 3 Ruan Dreyer, 2 Martin Bezuidenhout, 1 Jacques Van Rooyen.
Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Lambert Groenewald, 19 Warwick Tecklenburg, 20 Tian Meyer, 21 Lionel Cronje, 22 Crysander Botha.
Date: Friday, August 16
Venue: Kings Park, Durban
Kick-off: 17.05 (15.05 GMT)
Referee: Ben Crouse
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry, Reuben Rossouw
TMO: Deon van Blommestein
By Jan de Koning