JOHANNESBURG - The Lions could be led out by a new man against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday after Jacques van Rooyen, who did the job in Cape Town, picked up a calf injury in the 39-3 defeat last Friday against Western Province - which could rule him out of the Currie Cup clash.
Van Rooyen took the reins after Ryan Kankowski cried off the week before, while the man new coach Swys de Bruin might have earmarked to captain the Lions in the Currie Cup, Kwagga Smith, is suspended and only available again next week.
The other men to have led the Lions in recent times but aren’t available at the moment, are Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel and Ross Cronje.
Who’ll do the job this week if Van Rooyen is ruled out, is anyone’s guess. Also uncertain at this stage is how the Lions will respond to the beating they took at Newlands and the fact they’re now last on the seven-team points table, having registered just one win from five matches.
De Bruin said after the match at Newlands this was not the time to make radical changes or come down hard on his players, but rather to build up their confidence.
“It’s been tough after our run in Super Rugby. We had to rest some senior players ... some of whom should actually still be resting, while there are also a bunch of youngsters in the squad for the first time,” De Bruin told rugby365.com.
“Our character is being tested, it’s not nice, but we have to get through these growing pains. I have to get the players’ confidence back where it should be. We won’t lie down ... it’s not part of our character,” he said.
The Lions travel to the table-topping and defending champions, the Cheetahs, on Saturday - a side that has one eye on the Currie Cup and the other on their debut in the Pro14 competition.
Meanwhile, the Cheetahs have made a few new appointments ahead of their entry into the Pro14 and to manage the overlap with the Currie Cup.
England-raised Dave Williams has been appointed as the new backline-and-attack coach in view of the Pro14, as well as the Currie Cup moving forward. Williams was previously assistant coach for the Kobe Steelers in Japan, while he also coached London Irish and Bath in England. He was also the backline and coach coordinator for the Southern Kings.
For the overlap with the Currie Cup, the coaching staff involved in the Pro14 will be Rory Duncan (head coach), Corniel van Zyl (forwards coach), Dave Williams (backs coach) and Charl Strydom (defence).
Dr Rudi de Wet and JP du Toit will form part of this team, as the medical doctor and physiotherapist, respectively, while the fitness coordinator and biokineticist is Quintin Kruger.
Taking charge of the Currie Cup side will be Daan Human, with MJ Smith and Albert Keuris.
Director of Rugby Franco Smith - when he’s not involved with the Springboks - will apart from all his other responsibilities, also assist both teams with skills, structures and strategy. The Cheetahs’ opening Pro14 game is against Ulster next Friday, followed by a clash with Munster; both in Ireland.