The victorious Lions team were dealt another cruel as they headed to Perth for the final match of their Australasian tour. Star prop Heinke van der Merwe has been ruled out for at least four months.
Rugby 365 reports that coach Eugene Eloff has confirmed that the 23-year-old prop injured his knee in the team’s impressive 31-20 win over the Chiefs at the weekend.
“Unfortunately it seems Heinke [van der Merwe] will be out for a long time,” Eloff said, adding: “We’ve lost a few key players, but we’ll grind it out.”
The Lions had lost captain Cobus Grobbelaar and fullback Louis Ludik before the encounter with the Blues in Week Nine. Both have already flown home.
Eloff is hopeful that stand-in captain Jaque Fourie, who injured his eye against the Blues and missed the encounter with the Reds, would be fit to face the Western Force in Perth on Friday.
Eloff praised his team for showing character in beating the Reds, despite being down to 13 men for about 10 minutes – after Robert Kruger (late tackle) and Anton van Zyl (professional foul) were yellow carded.
“Losing two guys to yellow cards for silly things they did was tough, but the team just stuck together and I think the self believe is coming back to this team,” the coach said.
“Both teams, the Reds and Lions, can play incredible rugby – both teams just need consistency.
“If we [the Lions] can be just more consistent I think we can go forward,” he added.
Ernst Joubert, who took over the captaincy against the Reds after Grobbelaar and Fourie were ruled out, also praised his teams character.
“To play with 13 guys against this team that can throw the ball around and play a kind of touch rugby game, I must really take my hat of to my team, it was brilliant,” Joubert said.
“In the first half we played into their hands, trying to play a high-tempo game, but after the break we slowed the game down and it suited us better.”Tweet