JOHANNESBURG – Lions boss Swys de Bruin has a tough decision to make: Does he pick his three-try hero from the Jaguares win, Marnus Schoeman, to start against the Stormers this weekend, or does he go with the fit-again Kwagga Smith, who withdrew from the trip to Argentina because of injury?
It’s a tough call for the Lions coach, who backed Schoeman in the No 6 jersey last weekend, but Smith was, and probably still is, the Lions’ first choice openside flank.
The good news though is the former Sevens star will in all probability feature for the Lions when they travel to Cape Town for a second round match against the Stormers, who came horribly unstuck first-up against the Bulls.
“I’m fully fit and ready to play,” declared Smith yesterday.
“It was a 50/50 thing last week and we decided it was better that I rather stay at home and fully get over the calf strain. There was no point taking a risk for one game and maybe missing the season,” he explained.
Smith said it didn’t matter where he slotted in this week, as long as he got into the Lions squad.
“Look, it’s frustrating sitting on the sidelines and watching things. I can’t wait to get stuck in again, I’m very excited. I don’t mind if I start or come on from the bench, as long as I can play again.”
He was full of praise for his team and especially Schoeman, who scored a hat-trick of tries for the Lions’ in their first-ever win in Buenos Aires, 25-16.
“I think we’ll take that for a first up performance. It’s never been easy going there and winning, so I’m very pleased the guys could pull it off,” he said.
“There was pressure on us after what happened previously so the calm and control the guys showed was impressive. It’s always nice to start with an away win and it gives us something to build on.
“And what can I say about Marnus; he had an excellent game, so it’ll be now interesting to see what the coach decides. Either way, strong competition in the squad is a good thing.”
Besides Smith, who is again available this week, De Bruin will also possibly be able to consider lock Stephan Lewies, who is on a short term contract with the three-time Super Rugby runners-up. The former Sharks man was set to make his Lions debut last weekend, but, like Smith, withdrew during the week because of a pectoral injury.
Other seasoned Lions players like Cyle Brink, Robbie Coetzee, Johannes Jonker and Ross Cronje are long-term injury concerns and won’t be considered for selection anytime soon.@jacq_west