Injuries have caused havoc in the Lions squad as Eugene Eloff’s men prepare to play Super 14 rugby champions the Bulls in Pretoria on Friday night.
Hennie Brandt reports for Beeld that inside centre Doppies la Grange has hamstring problems and will join Jaco Pretorius on the sideline while the Springbok centre recovers from a hamstring injury that kept him out of last week’s match against the Western Force.
Versatile back Earl Rose broke a finger against the Australians and may be out of rugby for up to five weeks.
Eloff and his assistants will know only on Tuesday whether flyhalf Louis Strydom will be fit to face the Bulls. Strydom, who took a knock on the knee that needed surgery a while ago, was unable to train on Monday.
However, he was confident of recovering in time.
With Pretorius and La Grange injured, Jaco van Schalkwyk and Walter Venter are likely to man the midfield in Pretoria.
But Van Schalkwyk also missed Monday’s practice after taking a knock during the match against the Force. If he cannot play, Jannie Boshoff will be called up, leaving a vacancy on the bench.
Venter will make his Super 14 debut after playing Vodacom Cup rugby for the Lions.
Despite the injuries, Eloff was not despondent on Monday. “This is where our squad system kicks in,” he said. “We wanted to consider Thabang Molfe at centre, but he missed last week’s Vodacom Cup match because of a hamstring injury.
“Walter played well in the Vodacom Cup matches and I expect Jaco van Schalkwyk to be ready for Friday night,” the coach said.
With Rose out of contention, the main problem is at flyhalf. Eloff says Rudi Vogt is the likely choice but Arno Coetzee is another option despite a sub-par performance against Western Province last week.
If former Eastern Province star Michael Killian is given a run at fullback or flyhalf in the Vodacom Cup team, Eloff is likely to take a good look at him.
The Lions squad against the Bulls may be: Louis Ludik, Dusty Noble, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Walter Venter, Rayno Benjamin, Louis Strydom, Jano Vermaak, Joe van Niekerk, Ernst Joubert ( capt), Cobus Grobbelaar, Willem Stoltz, Gerhard Mostert, Ross Geldenhuys, Willie Wepener, Heinke van der Merwe.
Substitutes: Ethienne Reynecke, JC Janse van Rensburg, Anton van Zyl, Willem Alberts, Chris Jonck, Rudi Vogt and Jannie Boshoff.