Lions coach Eugene Eloff is having second thoughts about unleashing his star Springbok flyhalf, injury prone André Pretorius, on the Bulls in a Super 14 pre-season match on Saturday.
Eloff, speaking to Rugby365′s Jan De Koning during a break in training on Tuesday, said he may keep the pivotal player on ice until the opening round of the competition proper – when they face the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on February 13.
The veteran Bok flyhalf, Pretorius, was named on Monday on the bench of the White team – one of two outfits who will face the Bulls in a double header in Johannesburg on Saturday. It would be his first competitive game in more than a year if he takes to the field.
Pretorius last played when he turned out for the Springboks in the 5-22 loss to the Barbarians at Twickenham in December 2007, injuring his foot in that game.
The 30-year-old Pretorius, who has had a catalogue of injuries in the past five years, underwent surgery – with the first attempt at fixing the problem not being successful, requiring the player to go under the knife again.
But now it looks like his comeback might be delayed for another three weeks.
“I am still considering the situation, I still have to make a final call on his involvement in the game,” Eloff told rugby365.com when asked about Pretorius’ role in the encounter with the Bulls.
“Maybe his first game will only be against the Cheetahs [in Round One of the competition],” the Lions coach said, adding that they are still busy with the player’s rehabilitation.
“He is running in all the moves, but I still have another two weeks of rehabilitation with him that I want to complete.
“I can play him, but that might be stupid. I may change my mind before the game [and play him on Saturday] and I could make the call on the day.”
Eloff said his main goals for Saturday’s game has very little to do with the final result and everything with “getting structures in place and also to see how certain combinations work”.
“The result will play no role whatsoever,” Eloff said, adding: “We won’t be kicking at goal and stuff like that. We are going to focus purely on our attacking structures, our defensive lines and our play at the breakdown.
“I’m sure the scoreline will be in the back of the players’ minds, but it is not important to me.”
Eloff said the Lions, who will have only this one round of warm-up matches, are in peak physical condition.
“I am very happy with where we are at in terms of our physical preparations,” he told rugby365.com.
“For the first time I am going into the Super 14 with physically well conditioned players, and we have some real depth in every position.
“I also have all my key players available and ready to play,” Eloff said, explaining that he has already had discussions with all the players and told them exactly what he expects of them in terms of their primary and secondary roles on Saturday.Tweet