Lions fret over star centre

    2015-04-29 09:47

    Cape Town - The Lions are sweating over the availability of star centre Lionel Mapoe as they prepare to face the Bulls in a Super Rugby clash in Pretoria this weekend.

    According to Rugby365, Mapoe is struggling with a knee injury and is in a race against time to be fit for the trans-Jukskei derby at Loftus Versfeld.

    Coach Johan Ackermann said they will give Mapoe until Thursday's team announcement before making a call on his availability.

    Mapoe has been on song for the Lions in Super Rugby this year and his form has been recognised by Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer, who included him in both Bok training squads named over the weekend.

    Ackermann earlier this week spoke highly of the midfielder, saying he would include him in the Springbok squad for the Rugby World Cup in England and Wales later this year.

    “If you’re looking for an outside centre with X-factor, then Lionel is definitely your man,” Ackermann told Netwerk24.

    “In terms of enterprise, you don’t need to look any further than him and Juan de Jongh (Stormers centre) as your candidates for the No 13 jersey. Lionel’s performances in this (2015) Super Rugby competition have been outstanding and it’s notable how hard he’s worked on his conditioning.

    “If I was the Springbok coach, then I would take him along to the World Cup. One of Lionel’s strong points is his versatility. Nowadays, he’s an established outside centre, but is equally comfortable on the wing. In fact, I think you could even use him as an inside centre if need be.”

    Saturday's clash at Loftus Versfeld kicks off at 19:10.

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