The Springbok lock suffered the injury in the Lions’ win over the Reds at Ellis Park on Saturday, and will not play any more Super Rugby this year after undergoing surgery on Monday. He is expected to be out of action for up to six months. With the big lock fast approaching his 100th game coach Johan Ackerman is quite aware of what a loss this is for his high flying Lions.
“Franco is going to be out for up to six months, so we have definitly lost our most experienced player with over a 100 Currie Cup games and almost 100 Super Rugby games so it’s not the best news that I received yesterday. “He has already had an operation, he has torn all his ankle ligaments, a grade three syndesmotic tear,” Ackerman said. While Van der Merve is a big loss to the Lions the coach can be grateful for the bye his team has this week, players such as Coenie van Wyk and Deon van Rensburg should be available, after limping off the field against the Reds, when the Lions host the Crusaders at Ellis park the following week.
“First of all we had a lot of knocks on our bodies so the bye comes at the right time, but next week we have to be sharp. “The rest have bumps and bruises but those that came off the field on the weekend, Deon van Rensburg and Coenie van Wyk, will recover in time. “With the bye this week we are quite confident that they will be ready next week, the prognosis so far is that they will recover in time – it was all just bone bruises,” he said.
Ackerman has also indicated that Elton Jantjies is still very much part of his Super Rugby plans by giving the Springbok pivot a week break along with the rest of the squad, this comes after Jantjies played in the Vodacom Cup at the weekend. “Because we are limited in our squad, the whole Super Rugby group is going to have an off week, we will all see each other next Monday and nobody will play this weekend – Elton [Jantjies] falls into that Super Rugby group.
“We only have Marnitz [Boshoff] at flyhalf and we don’t want Elton to pick up unnecessary injuries,” Ackerman said.
By: Darryn Pollock