The Lions have half-a-dozen players on their doubtful list, just more than a month away from their return to Super Rugby.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann, in an interview with this website as his team returned to the training field this week, revealed that Springbok flyhalf Elton Jantjies tops the list of injured players.
Ackermann will only reveal his final Super Rugby squad on Thursday, January 30, but admitted that injuries are already a factor.
“We have a number of players we had to do some serious reparation work on at the end of last year, to let them undergo surgery,” the Lions mentor said.
“The call was: ‘Fix them up or try and push them through a Super Rugby season.’
“If we took the latter option we ran the risk of them packing up anyway and we would have regretted the decision – we opted for reparation.”
Ackermann told this website that a number of players have only a 50-50 chance to make the start of the season – when the Lions mark their return to Super Rugby by taking on the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, February 15.
Those players are Jantjies [shoulder surgery], Anthony Volmink [shoulder], Deon van Rensburg [leg], who could make even though he is still in rehabilitation, Ruan Dreyer [shoulder], who might only return at the end of February, Ruan Combrinck [ankle] and Dylan des Fountain [knee].
“Those are the big names that are in doubt for the opening round,” the coach told this website.
“We have a few other players, like Lionel Mapoe and Willie du Plessis, who are in rehabilitation.
“However, the prognosis for then is that they should be fine for the first match,” he said, adding that Mapoe is about a week away from returning.
The Lions have three pre-season games planned – against the Leopards at Ellis Park on January 24, the Southern/Eastern Province Kings at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on February 1 and the Sharks at Ellis Park Stadium on February 7.
By Jan de Koning