Lions get massive player boost
Brenden Nel - SuperSport
Johannesburg - Lions coach Johan Ackermann has received a massive boost ahead of Saturday’s Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Crusaders at Ellis Park as a host of players are available again for selection.
According to the supersport.com website, the week off has really worked in the Lions favour as Ackermann now needs to decide who of the returning players to use before he chooses his team.
However, one injury is still causing headaches, and Coenie van Wyk’s knee problems will determine just how the Lions team will look for the weekend.
Van Wyk is struggling with his knee and the outcome of the medical assessment will determine if he sits on the bench or not – and if he doesn’t will influence other selections as well.
Van Wyk is the natural cover for Marnitz Boshoff, and his absence will mean a reshuffle of the bench, meaning Springbok Elton Jantjies will most likely be back on the bench.
Andries Coetzee is back as well, but he will only come onto the bench if the Van Wyk situation is sorted out.
Other than that, Ackermann has the option of bringing back Anthony Volminck, Alwyn Hollenbach, Deon van Rensburg, Chrysander Botha, Derick Minnie and Malcolm Marx as all have recovered from their injuries.
“We froze a number of players from playing in the Vodacom Cup to have them fit for this week,” Ackermann said.
“We’re waiting on Coenie, and we will make a final decision on Thursday. But the chances are good that he and Franco van der Merwe will not be there from our last outing.”
Van der Merwe is out for the season with a knee injury, with Martin Muller likely to move into his place.
“It’s great to have everyone available again,” Ackermann was all smiles when hearing the news.
But he knows his team face a tough task against the seven-time champions, the Crusaders, who themselves have had a tough start to the season.
“They might not be playing up to their own standards but they are a team that always expect to win. If you go through their team and you see names like Sam Whitelock, Kieran Reid and Andy Ellis, you would be stupid not to realise the quality they have in their team and because they lost their last game, will arrive here with a bang.
“But our guys have taken a lot of confidence out of the last few weeks, and we know how to handle big moments like this. I have confidence in our players.”
And lying second in the South African conference, Ackermann has reason for confidence, especially with wins over the Blues and Reds under his belt ahead of this game.