Loffie Eloff’s mean have been dealt a cruel blow ahead of their must-win third-round clash against the Bulls in Johannesburg. Powerful loosehead Heinke van der Merwe has copped a one-match ban for a “technical spear” on Frans Steyn in the closing stages of Saturday’s 10-25 loss to the Sharks.
Jannie Boshoff was cited together with van der Merwe for the incident, which I must admit I missed. The former got off scot-free, while Heinke will watch the Bulls game from the stands. It’s a cruel blow to the Lions, as so much of their strong scrum platform is built around van der Merwe’s immovable form in the number 1 jersey. With their lineout a shambles and their loose trio a little on the slow side, they now appear nothing other than Bull-fodder going into the weekend’s clash.
In yet another setback, injury prone reserve flyhalf Andre Pretorius has apparently done his hammie again. He is unlikely to provide backup to Earl Rose this week, meaning either Michael Killian or Barry Goodes will come onto the bench to cover flyhalf. Ernst Joubert is expected to be named on the blind side in place of Franco van der Merwe, in an attempt to counter the pace of Pierre Spies, Deon Stegmann and Dewald Potgieter.
Expect Lawrence Sephaka to take over at loosehead, with JC Janse van Rensburg coming onto the bench in the number 17 jersey.
Possible Lions team:
14 Ludik, 14 Willemse, 13 Fourie, 12 la Grange, 11 Mentz, 10 Rose, 9 Vermaak, 8 Alberts, 7 Joubert, 6 Grobbelaar, 5 van Zyl, 4 Mostert, 3 Muller, 2 Wepener, 1 Sephaka
16 van Dyk, 17 Janse van Rensburg, 18 F van der Merwe, 19 Clever, 20 Jonck, 21 Killian, 22 Boshoff