Johannesburg – The Lions squad is already stretched ahead of the Super Rugby season as another player is forced to the sidelines with a long-term injury.
A trio of young hookers will now complete for the role after Bandise Maku underwent a shoulder operation on Tuesday.
Maku will be out for up to six months and will join centers Dylan des Fountain and Waylon Murray on the injured list.
Des Fountain damaged knee ligaments against the Stormers and will also be out for six months while Murray suffers from a recurring knee injury he sustained in the Currie Cup last season.
“These are the sort of setbacks you have to handle,” Lions coach John Mitchell said. “We’ve learned tougher lessons than this.”
“It is unfortunate for Bandy (Maku), though, even if it gives another player a chance.”
Maku represented the Springboks once in 2010 and he has played 33 Super Rugby matches.
Lions newcomer Callie Visagie (23), who led Maties in the Varsity Cup last year, was his replacement for the Stormers game.
Martin Bezuidenhout (22) and Edgar Marutlulle (24) are also in line and have both made eight Super Rugby appearances for the Lions last year.
Mitchell said he expects most of the other players recovering from injury to be ready for the Cheetahs game in Johannesburg on February 25.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies, lock Wikus van Heerden and center Alwyn Hollenbach are all expected to return.
“We won’t pamper players too much,” Mitchell said. “We have to build our physicality.”
“We are getting to the point where players are getting tired of the preseason schedule and they are hungry to play rugby.”