Lions happy with depth up front
Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - Lions assistant coach Johan Ackermann says they finally have a strong forward pack going into the Super Rugby season.
The Lions have been thin at lock, in recent years, but have finally found some depth in the second row.
"We now have good grinders in Wikus van Heerden, Michael Rhodes, Hendrik Roodt, Stephan Greeff and Marius Coetzer," said Ackermann.
"We also have two current SA Under-20 guys, Paul Willemse and Ettiene Oosthuizen."
Suffering a 28-6 defeat to the Stormers in a pre-season warm-up match last Friday, Ackermann said the Lions were still far from the complete package.
"We were predictable in the way we played but we were satisfied after acquiring that physical contact and we wanted our forwards to work hard, which they did," Ackermann said.
"Our basic ball skills looked a bit rusty, we lost some balls in contact and our lineouts also looked rusty."
However, Ackermann felt they would be able to iron out some of the rough spots displayed in Cape Town with three weeks to go before their opening Super Rugby match against the Cheetahs in Johannesburg.
The Lions have been hit by injuries to some of their key staff, the latest setback being a knee injury to centre Dylan des Fountain which could see him out of the game for up to six months.
Other injury concerns included those to playmaker flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who had a broken bone in his hand, and scrumhalves Ross Cronje and Wesley Moolman who are also nursing injuries.
Ackermann said the niggling injuries would be addressed within the next month.
"Obviously you want as few as possible injuries but we need to work through it and that is where your depth will count."
There was healthy competition among the forwards and Ackermann used the example of Pat Cilliers, who would be under pressure from Jacobie Adriaanse at tighthead prop.