The Lions suffered a double blow ahead of their Super 14 encounter with the Reds in Brisbane on Saturday, with both captain Cobus Grobbelaar and Springbok Jaque Fourie having been ruled out of the game.
Rugby 365 reports that Grobbelaar, who missed out on last week’s capitulation to the Blues with an ankle injury, will be sidelined for another two to four weeks and has already returned home.
With just one match remaining, after this, on the Lions’ Australasian tour – against the Western Force in Perth next weekend – the coaching staff have opted not to fly in a replacement.
Fourie, who started as captain against the Blues in the absence of Grobbelaar, has been ruled out with the eye injury he suffered midway through the encounter in Auckland.
However, Fourie is expected to available to face the Force again.
In the absence of the regular captain and vice-captain, Ernst Joubert will lead the team against the Reds. Joubert was the Lions’ first choice captain, before suffering a season-ending injury last year – which saw Grobbelaar taking over the captaincy armband.
In a third injury setback Louis Ludik will be replaced by Earl Rose at fullback, after Ludik pulled a hamstring. He is also expected to be back next week.
Walter Venter and Johan van Deventer have been placed on standby in South Africa should the need arise for reinforcements to be flown in.
In other changes, Jannie Boshoff comes in for Shandre Frolic on the wing, Doppies le Grange returns to the side at inside centre, with Deon van Rensburg shifting to outside centre in the absence of Fourie. Jano Vermaak is back at scrumhalf ahead of Chris Jonck.
Amongst the forwards there are just two changes – Jannes Labuschagne replaces Gerhard Mostert at lock and Lawrence Sephaka comes in for Gert Muller at tighthead prop.
Lions: 15 Earl Rose, 14 Jannie Boshoff, 13 Deon van Rensburg, 12 Doppies le Grange, 11 Henno Mentz, 10 André Pretorius, 9 Jano Vermaak, 8 Willem Alberts, 7 Ernst Joubert (captain), 6 Todd Clever, 5 Anton van Zyl, 4 Jannes Labuschagne, 3 Lawrence Sephaka, 2 Willie Wepener, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Hans van Dyk, 17 JC Janse van Rensburg, 18 Franco van der Merwe, 19 Robert Kruger, 20 Gerhard Mostert, 21 Chris Jonck, 22 Shandre Frolic.