JOHANNESBURG – Only Marnus Schoeman of the loose trio which did duty against the Rebels last weekend will run out for the Lions on Saturday when they clash with the Sunwolves in a round six Super Rugby match in Singapore.
Schoeman will have a new eighthman and blindside flank after Kwagga Smith and Vincent Tshituka were ruled out of the trip because of injuries.
In fact, Smith will miss the next six weeks’ of action after tearing a tendon in his groin against the Rebels last weekend, while Tshituka, too, will be out for six weeks with an ankle injury.
Making matters worse for the Lions is experienced loose-forwards Warren Whiteley and Cyle Brink are still not ready for action after earlier picking up injuries themselves. Whiteley (pectoral muscle) is only expected back on the field in the middle of next month while Brink (knee) may only be ready in two weeks’ time.
Head coach Swys de Bruin will now have to assemble a new loose-trio for the match against the dangerous Sunwolves.
#InjuryReport | @SmithKwagga groin tendon injury (6 wks), Vincent Tshituka, concussion & ankle (6 wks), @Dy1Smith fractured cheek bone (8-12 wks), Dillon Smit, hamstring (4-6 wks). @AndriesC_Lions hamstring (1wk). Sylvian Mahuza & Jacobie Adriaanse back this week.#LionsPride pic.twitter.com/xSCRIKChGZ— Emirates Lions (@LionsRugbyCo) March 19, 2019
While Schoeman is certain to start, two of Hacjivah Dayimani, Robert Kruger and James Venter will likely join him in the loose-trio, but De Bruin could, of course, also opt to play one of his locks, like Ruan Vermaak or Rhyno Herbst, on the blindside.
Schoeman said the Sunwolves would pose a massive threat to the Lions, who are coming off back-to-back wins.
“The Sunwolves seem to produce a very good side every year,” said the fearless and tough-as teak Schoeman on Tuesday.
“They’re a dangerous team, a real big threat. They’re unpredictable and like to play. They’ve also had good results this year and in a number of games have just been on the wrong side.
“They’re definitely not to be underestimated. It’s going to be a good challenge for us, having to travel there this week, and play in that humidity, but, they’ve also travelled home this week (from Australasia) and also have to play in the same conditions. At the end of the day it’s going to come down to which team adapts best to the conditions.”
But it’s not only in the loose-trio where the Lions have been hit hard by injuries. Stalwart loose-head prop Dylan Smith broke a bone in his cheek last weekend and will also be sidelined for anything between eight and 12 weeks. He saw a surgeon yesterday afternoon and is to undergo an operation to mend the bone - his third surgery in as many years after battling shoulder problems in recent times.
Also, back-up scrumhalf Dillon Smit has hurt his hamstring and won’t play for the next six weeks, while one of last weekend’s heroes in the Lions’ come-from-behind win against the Rebels, Andries Coetzee, won’t travel to Singapore because he, too, has a hamstring problem. The good news is the fullback will be ready for their next match, against the Sharks, in just over two weeks’ time.
In further good news the Lions welcomed back Sylvian Mahuza and Jacobie Adriaanse this week and they’ll both travel to Singapore when the squad leave on Wednesday.@jacq_west