Lions coach Eugene Eloff will have a few sleepless nights this week, as he awaits news on his injured captain Cobus Grobbelaar, ahead of their decisive Currie Cup encounter with Western Province at Newlands on Saturday.
Eloff confirmed that the star flank is a doubtful starter for the trip to Cape Town, with a call scheduled to be made on Thursday only.
“He took a knock to his calf and suffered a haematoma,” Eloff told rugby365.com.
The Lions coach also confirmed that another star flank, Derick Minnie, has been ruled out of the Round 14 encounter after taking a blow to the neck.
However, it is the possible loss of Grobbelaar that could be the biggest blow to the Lions, as they go head-to-head with Province and a game that will decide the fourth and final Currie Cup play-off spot.
“As is the case with any captain, it will be a huge loss for us,” Eloff said, when quizzed about the value of Grobbelaar as a player and team leader.
“However, I will not risk him unless he is 100 percent fit. I simply don’t play injured players,” the coach added.
Eloff was in an upbeat mood on Monday, as his team stepped up preparations for the trip to Cape Town – despite their heavy 20-34 loss to the Sharks at the weekend.
The Lions needed a bonus point from their trip to Durban to secure their place in the semifinals, but their failure to secure any points means they will now have to do it the hard way against WP on Saturday.
Eloff’s team will go through if they take a bonus point or lose by 18 points or fewer to Province. WP will join the last four if they score four tries in winning by 19 points or more and deny the Lions a bonus point.
Eloff refused to point fingers, despite a woeful display by flyhalf Earl Rose, which gifted the Sharks 14 points.
“We outplayed a Sharks team, loaded with Springboks, for most of the game,” Eloff told rugby365.com. “However, a few individual mistakes and bad judgment cost us 14 points in just 10 minutes and that was the difference between winning and losing for us.”
The Lions coach also dismissed the notion that Rose alone should be blamed for the loss – saying it was not just the flyhalf’s to ill-judged kicks that are to blame.
“There was also bad defence on Ryan Kankowski and an open try-line with a two-man overlap and a player going for glory. Those are the small mistakes that cost a team from winning,” he added.
Eloff made it clear that his team will arrive in Cape Town as “huge underdogs” against a star-studded WP team – who boats as many internationals in their side as the Sharks do.
“Those things don’t bother us,” Eloff said.
“We don’t look at names or permutations … I leave that for the media to speculate about.
“We have a job to do and we will commit ourselves to the cause 100 percent.”
By Jan de Koning of rugby 365Tweet