JOHANNESBURG – Not as bad as first thought but certainly still a hammer-blow to the Lions’ chances of going all the way in Super Rugby this year.
That’s the way many Lions fans will be feeling after hearing the news that star centre Rohan Janse van Rensburg will probably miss the rest of the Super Rugby competition.
Having picked up a knee injury in his team’s impressive win against the Stormers at Newlands last Saturday, Janse van Rensburg will have an operation on his right knee on Friday, that will rule him out of action for three months.
Not only will his team now have to make do without a player who has scored five tries in six matches, he was in the kind of form that would have made him a certain Springbok in June.
Janse van Rensburg will now hope to be fit for the Rugby Championship later in the year, but he will have some work to do to convince the Bok selectors he should walk straight into the team, especially if some of the other quality centres doing the rounds stick up their hands in June.
Besides Janse van Rensburg, the Lions have to also soldier on without Howard Mnisi, leaving them a little short for depth in the centres.
Coach Johan Ackermann, who will leave the franchise for Gloucester at the end of the current Super Rugby competition, will now bank on Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe staying fit, with Jacques Nel the back-up midfielder.
If the Lions are to go all the way this year – that being a step further than their runners-up spot of 2016 – they will more than likely do so with a more limited squad considering the absence of Janse van Rensburg, Mnisi, Julian Redelinghuys, and maybe Dylan Smith, while Warwick Tecklenburg has called it quits.
The Lions will be looking for their seventh win in eight matches when they host the Jaguares at Ellis Park on Friday night. Thereafter they board the plane to Australia for matches against the Force, Rebels and Brumbies.