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Combrinck's return all part of a plan

Super Rugby
JOHANNESBURG - Although Ruan Combrinck made a successful comeback when playing for the Lions in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge in Alberton at the weekend, he is not looking too far ahead.

Speaking after the Golden Lions 112-14 win over the Namibia Welwitschias after spending six months recovering from a shoulder injury suffered during the Springboks’ end-of-year tour, the Lions winger said he would listen closely to medical advice.

“We’re just taking it day-by-day to see how the progression goes,” he said.

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“The Super Rugby guys have been playing awesome rugby and if I was a coach I wouldn’t change anything there.”

Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Madosh Tambwe and Sylvian Mahuza have all deputised for Combrinck during his absence, with the teenager Tambwe growing into the role and Mahuza shooting the lights out in it in recent weeks.

With the Springboks playing the first Test of their three-match series against France in just over a month, and the Lions left with just three more fixtures before Super Rugby goes into its break for incoming tours, quite what that means for Combrinck’s international ambitions is a mystery.

The 26-year-old, who was one of the few leading lights for the Boks last season, played 40 minutes in the Lions’ annihilation of the Welwitschias at the Alberton Rugby Club on Saturday, finishing the rest of the game as a glorified water boy for the team.

As reintroductions to the game go, few could have been gentler on the shoulder than the match against the outclassed Namibians, who had conceded seven tries without reply by half-time and shipped in another nine in the second half as their lack of conditioning told.

Combrinck said going off at half-time was always the plan: “The plan was always to trust the medical staff and the plan they have for me.

"After five months I can’t really rush into it and play 80 minutes.”

While he didn’t score one of the Lions’ 16 tries against the Welwitschias, Combrinck put in a performance in which he was lusty in the physical exchanges and instrumental in setting up two of the tries.

“It was awesome being back,” he said afterwards. “Shoulder’s feeling great, I just need more game time to see how it goes but I’m very satisfied with it.”

ANA

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