Rain delays Lions Super preparation
With big names Whiteley, Kriel, Mostert, Jantjies and Mapoe back, coach Ackermann hasn’t had an opportunity to assess his players as they build to new season
JOHAN Ackermann will be hoping for a few dry hours today to assess the fitness levels of some of his senior players before deciding who’ll run out for the Lions in a pre-season game on Saturday.
All of the Lions’ players who turned out for various clubs in Japan over the last few months – Warren Whiteley, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe – joined the rest of their Lions teammates at training yesterday, but heavy rain forced the players indoors and coach Ackermann was unable to put them to the test and determine what kind of condition they’re in.
“They were all back together for the first time, but the rain really disrupted us badly. There were huge puddles on the field and I wasn’t able to see what condition all those guys are in, so it wasn’t a very productive day,” said a frustrated Ackermann.
The Lions are preparing for a warm-up game against an invitational Barbarians side at Wits on Saturday, and Ackermann is still unsure who’ll run out in that game.
“The good thing is the guys who came back from Japan and even Andries Ferreira, who came back from France, all look to be in great condition. I can’t see any extra kilos on them. And anyway, they’re experienced campaigners so it shouldn’t take them long to slot back in,” he said.
It would appear second row forward Ferreira, who hasn’t played in some weeks, will play against the club players of the BaaBaas this weekend, but it’s doubtful the likes of Kriel, Mostert, Jantjies and Mapoe will feature.
“I’m really still uncertain who to pick for this game. Some of the guys need game time, but others might need some rest, too. That’s why I need to put them through some tests so see where they are physically,” Ackermann said.
“Having so many more guys coming in from overseas clubs this year, as opposed to this time last year, makes things a little more tricky, but I’m confident we’ll be all set come kickoff in a few weeks’ time.
“The good thing is we have far more experience in the squad this year, with many more guys having played Test rugby, and gone to the Super Rugby final last year, and that makes a big difference.”
Saturday’s game will be the Lions’ second warm-up game after a young, mainly Under-21 side lost against the Bulls in Harare last Saturday.
Players who Ackermann can’t consider for selection at the moment include Julian Redelinghuys, Ruan Combrinck and Dylan Smith, who’re all injured.
UNSURE: Lions coach Johan Ackermann will this week have an opportunity to assess his big name players, who have returned from Japan, and guage their condition and fitness levels.