JOHANNESBURG – The man who broke the back of the Brumbies in Canberra last week will be back to try do the same against the Bulls this weekend.
Hard-running Kwagga Smith, who out-paced three Brumbies defenders to score the only, match-clinching, try in the tight affair in the Australian capital last Friday is expected to stay in the Lions No 6 jersey for the foreseeable future, including against the Bulls when they visit Ellis Park in the big Gauteng Super Rugby derby on Saturday.
Smith, who played in the early tournaments of the on-going World Sevens series, but missed out in the latter stages of the BlitzBoks’ title-winning run of recent weeks to try establish himself in the 15s game, got his chance to shine on tour of Australia. He took over from the injured Jaco Kriel, who missed the trip.
And now the 23-year-old is in for an extended run at openside flank after news filtered through on Monday that Kriel, who kept Smith on the replacements’ bench for most of the Lions’ games this season, is not ready to return to action.
The Bok flanker, who is hoping to play all three Tests against France next month, has been sidelined for nearly four weeks after hurting his knee in the win against the Jaguares late last month.
The 27-year-old is doing what the Lions call “agility training” and is being monitored week to week. He is unlikely to play against the Bulls on Saturday.
Another regular in the team before the trip to Australia who’ll miss out this week is wing Madosh Tambwe. The youngster was left out of the tour group so he could focus his attention on trying to get into the SA U-20 squad for this year’s World Junior Championship, starting at the end of this month in Georgia.
Tambwe, however, missed out on a spot in the final squad after it came to light that he had not been properly registered as a South African citizen; that after being born in the DRC and coming to this country as a toddler.
He, however, has recently run out for the Golden Lions in the SuperSport Rugby Challenge and picked up a side strain playing against the Namibian Welwitschias at the weekend.
Prop Hencus van Wyk, who started against the Rebels in Australia, sustained a neck strain in that match and is also unlikely to feature this weekend.
It is expected that Lions boss Johan Ackermann will hand Faf de Klerk a start against the Bulls after the No 9 missed out in the wins against the Rebels and Brumbies. He only started the first match on tour, against the Force.
Also, Ackermann could again change his front row, this time opting for Ruan Dreyer, Jacques van Rooyen and Malcolm Marx, after the trio played off the bench last weekend in Canberra.
There is also a possibility that Bok wing Ruan Combrinck could be back in Super Rugby colours this week after playing two games for the Golden Lions in the Rugby Challenge after returning from a shoulder injury picked up last December.