WILL ROHAN GET TO NIBBLE SHARKS?

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - JAC­QUES VAN DER WESTHUYZEN

DON’T ex­pect any sur­prises from Jo­han Ack­er­mann when he names his line-up later this week for Satur­day’s all-im­por­tant fi­nal round robin Su­per Rugby match against the Sharks in Dur­ban.

Not even the re­turn to fit­ness of star cen­tre Rohan Janse van Rens­burg is likely to sway the Lions coach from pick­ing the tried and tested from re­cent weeks.

Ack­er­mann is ex­pected to name a fa­mil­iar look­ing side, in­clud­ing Harold Vorster at in­side cen­tre and Lionel Mapoe at 13.

Janse van Rens­burg may get a look-in on the bench, but he may also have to wait a lit­tle longer to make his re­turn to Su­per Rugby ac­tion.

The burly and pow­er­ful Janse van Rens­burg fea­tured for around 20 min­utes for the Golden Lions in their Su­perS­port Rugby Chal­lenge match against Gri­quas on Sun­day, but is be­lieved to be short on match fit­ness and sharp­ness, which may keep him from turn­ing out for Ack­er­mann’s men this weekend.

Sun­day’s match was the first out­ing for the in­side cen­tre since he hurt his knee against the Storm­ers some three months ago.

Be­fore that, he was in sen­sa­tional form for the Su­per Rugby out­fit, but in his ab­sence Vorster has stepped up and also played some sparkling rugby. He was recog­nised for his ef­forts with in­clu­sion in the SA “A” team that played two matches against the French Bar­bar­ians.

With so much rid­ing on the out­come of Satur­day’s trip to Dur­ban – more so if the Hur­ri­canes beat the Cru­saders ear­lier in the day, paving the way for the Lions to end top of the over­all log should they beat the Sharks – Ack­er­mann is un­likely to take a chance with Janse van Rens­burg.

The Spring­bok No 12 him­self also seems un­sure whether he is ready to step up just yet.

He was quoted by the Su­perS­port web­site yes­ter­day as say­ing: “It’s al­ways dif­fi­cult to come back from a knee in­jury be­cause you never know how strong it is. But it was good be­ing back on the field and tak­ing that first carry.

“I’m still a bit rusty and see a lot of room for im­prove­ment.

“I now have to work hard to make the knee even stronger and get the con­fi­dence back.”

The Lions were back on the train­ing ground for the first time in a week yes­ter­day af­ter hav­ing a bye last weekend. Ack­er­mann will hope they are re­freshed and rested af­ter an ar­du­ous build-up to the run-in of Su­per Rugby where sev­eral play­ers turned out for the Spring­boks and SA “A” side in June.

On top of that, Ack­er­mann picked his strong­est team to face the Sun­wolves af­ter the June break, and be­fore their bye.

They got close to putting 100 points on the vis­i­tors from Ja­pan and while the Sharks will present a far stiffer chal­lenge than the Sun­wolves, the Lions will still travel to Dur­ban later this week the hot favourites.

They have lost just once in 14 games all sea­son – against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires – and edged the in­con­sis­tent Sharks 34-29 when they met in the first match be­tween the sides, in Jo­han­nes­burg, on April 1.

A late El­ton Jan­tjies penalty and Jaco Kriel try se­cured a tight win for the hosts on that oc­ca­sion.

So, ex­pect a fa­mil­iar look­ing Lions team, with Ruan Ack­er­mann con­tin­u­ing in his role at No 8 in place of the in­jured War­ren White­ley, with the only toss up in selec­tion likely to be be­tween Ross Cronje and Faf de Klerk at scrumhalf.

PIC­TURE: EPA

BACK IN THE AC­TION? Af­ter a three month lay­off, Lions cen­tre Rohan Janse van Rens­burg could be back in the selec­tion mix for his team this weekend.

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