Lions waiting for new recruit Alberts to prove he can withstand rigours of Super Rugby

Ivan Van Rooyen (coach) of the Lions during the Currie Cup match between Xerox Golden Lions XV and Cell C Sharks XV at Emirates Airline Park on August 18, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Ivan Van Rooyen (coach) of the Lions during the Currie Cup match between Xerox Golden Lions XV and Cell C Sharks XV at Emirates Airline Park on August 18, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

The Lions are still waiting for new recruit Willem Alberts to prove that his body can stand up to the rigours of Super Rugby.

That means his comeback remains on ice as the Lions go into this Sunday’s Super Hero clash against the Bulls in Soweto.

Alberts‚ who is back from France where he played over the last few years‚ is back in Johannesburg where he started his provincial career.

But first‚ the Springbok has to come through rigorous medical assessment.

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen explained that flanker Alberts has to come through his medical before he can be cleared‚ and before agreement with his previous employers Stade Francais can be reached.

In the meantime‚ the Lions will play their last competitive match before the start of Super Rugby with another returning Springbok‚ Jannie du Plessis‚ in their starting line-up.

Du Plessis‚ who like Alberts played for the Sharks before leaving for France‚ will pack down at tighthead next to Pieter Jansen and Dylan Smith.

He will bring huge experience to the position but it is moot whether he will keep young Carlu Sadie out of the first XV.

Sadie will be doing duty for the Lions XV against the Blue Bulls XV at Loftus on Friday.

The team has a healthy blend of youth and experience with several players who have served the Bulls now campaigning this side of the Jukskei River.

One of the exceptions‚ however‚ is former Western Province player Tiaan Schoeman who joins the Lions after a stint with Sydney’s West Harbour club.

The fact that he has already worked his way into the starting line-up has raised a few eyebrows.

“Tiaan came with a great work ethic‚” explained coach Van Rooyen.

“Being over in Oz I think he tasted the real life out there. He was fortunate enough‚ in my opinion‚ to work as well so he came with an unbelievable mind set.

“With Andries Coetzee not being back yet and Tyone (Green) missing the first couple of weeks in pre-season he (Swanepoel) slotted in at 15 and really trained well.

"He also has a special long boot on him‚” explained Van Rooyen.

With regular captain Warren Whiteley sidelined for the campaign the team will be captained on Sunday by flyhalf Elton Jantjies.

A captain for the season will only be named on Monday.

Scrumahalf Ross Cronjé‚ prop Johannes Jonker‚ No 8 Hacjivah Dayimani‚ utility forward Ruan Vermaak‚ scrumhalf Gianni Lombard as well as locks Rhyno Herbst and Reinhard Nothnagel were not considered because of injury.

Cronjé may have to undergo surgery but if so‚ would only require a minor procedure on his ankle. Dayimani came back from the Blitzboks with a minor niggle and his absence is precautionary. Jonker is expected to return to action by the second week of the competition but Herbst‚ who injured himself in pre season‚ will be out for some time.

Lombard is expected back in April‚ while Nothnagel has what coach Ivan van Rooyen described a mild concussion.

The Lions team to play the Bulls - Tiaan Swanepoel; Jamba Ulengo‚ Duncan Matthews‚ Dan Kriel‚ Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies (captain)‚ Andre Warner; Len Massyn‚ Vincent Tshituka‚ Marnus Schoeman; Marvin Orie‚ Ruben Schoeman; Jannie du Plessis‚ Pieter Jansen‚ Dylan Smith.

Substitutes: Jan-Henning Campher‚ Sti Sithole‚ Frans van Wyk‚ Roelof Smit‚ Cyle Brink‚ Morne van der Berg‚ Manuel Rass‚ Tyrone Green‚ Jo-Hanko de Villiers‚ Wilhelm van der Sluys‚ Jan-Louis la Grange‚ Wandisile Simelane.

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