JOHANNESBURG – The Lions have suffered a major blow ahead of their Super Rugby campaign with the news that Springbok wing Courtnall Skosan will miss the entire competition, after tearing his anterior cruciate ligaments in his knee.
Skosan was in sensational form for the Lions last season as he helped the team to their second straight final, with his nose for the tryline catching the attention of national coach Allister Coetzee, who handed the speedy winger his Springbok debut.
He played in almost all the Bok matches last year.
“It’s going to be about six months out for him,” lamented Lions boss Swys de Bruin, who takes over from Johan Ackermann this year.
“It’s a big blow. It happened in a freak accident in training on Monday... and it wasn’t even a contact session. He just ran into another guy. It’s a huge setback, but we’re at least well covered on the wing.”
Besides Sylvian Mahuza – who is already familiar with the Lions set-up, De Bruin can consider Madosh Tambwe, who also featured regularly last season and scored some sensational tries, and rookie Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Sadly, Ruan Combrinck – the Lions’ other star winger – is also currently on the sidelines with a shoulder injury and only expected back towards the end of March.
Meanwhile, former South Africa “A” centre Howard Mnisi will return to action after almost a year out with a leg injury when he captains a youthful Lions team against the Bulls in a pre-season game at Ellis Park on Saturday.
Mnisi injured his leg in the Lions’ opening game towards the end of February last season, and spent the rest of 2017 on the sidelines.
Emirates Lions wing Courtnall Skosan has injured his knee in training on Monday. A MRI scan confirmed an ACL tear. It is not yet clear how long Skosan will be sidelined. @VodacomRugga @SuperRugby pic.twitter.com/BolxVoUThR
He will join promising centre Manny Rass in the midfield on Saturday in what will be the Lions’ only warm-up game before they kick off their 2018 challenge against the Sharks at Ellis Park on February 17.
Mnisi will do battle with Harold Vorster, Lionel Mapoe and Rohan Janse van Rensburg for a spot in the centres in 2018.
Tambwe and Dyantyi are both in action on the wings on Saturday, along with former schoolboy star Gianni Lombard at fullback, and halfbacks Ashlon Davids and Marco Janse van Vuuren.
The most interesting selection in the forwards is that of loosehead prop Corné Fourie, who’s been picked to play at hooker.
15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Madosh Tambwe, 13 Manny Rass, 12 Howard Mnisi (captain), 11 Aphiwe Dyantyi, 10 Ashlon Davids, 9 Marco Jansen van Vuren, 8 Willie Engelbrecht, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Marnus Schoeman, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 PJ Steenkamp, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Corné Fourie, 1 Sti Sithole.
Bench: 16 Pieter Jansen, 17 Cohen Kiewit, 18 Pikkie de Villiers, 19 James Venter, 20 Len Massyn, 21 Christiaan Meyer, 22 Shaun Reynolds, 23 Louritz van der Schyff, 24 Wandisile Simelane.