Lions need Rohan to get game time
THE sooner Rohan Janse van Rensburg gets up to Super Rugby speed, the better for the Lions, according to coach Johan Ackermann.
The powerfully built centre will feature for the Lions for the first time in three months after recently recovering from a knee injury when he plays off the bench against the Sharks in Durban tomorrow. It is the Lions’ last game before they enter the knockout rounds, starting with a quarter-final at home next weekend, and Ackermann is desperate to have a player of Janse van Rensburg’s quality available for those games.
The 22-year-old was in stunning form before suffering injury against the Stormers on April 16 and while he has only played for 20 minutes in the Golden Lions’ loss against Griquas in the SuperSport Challenge match last Sunday, Ackermann wants him to get into shape as quickly as possible, hence his selection to be part of the squad that travels to Durban today.
“We all know what great form Rohan was in before his injury, so, while it’s tough on Jacques Nel to miss out ... he filled in brilliantly for us in Rohan’s absence ... Rohan has got the X-factor,” Ackermann said yesterday. “He had 20 minutes last week, but we need to get him more game time before the playoffs.”
Whatever happens in Durban tomorrow, the Lions will host a quarter-final next weekend – either against the Sharks or Highlanders.
A win for the Lions though, and a defeat for the hitherto unbeaten Crusaders against the Hurricanes in Wellington earlier tomorrow, will mean Ackermann’s men will finish on top of the overall Super Rugby standings, guaranteeing them a home match in every playoff game for as long as they stay in the competition.
Ackermann said it mattered little to him and the players what happens in Wellington. “We’ve done the job to get a home quarter-final, so in that sense the pressure is off us,” he said. “But we’re not going to look beyond that ... our focus is on the Sharks and producing a quality performance after our bye so we go into the quarters with some good momentum behind us. The Sharks are a quality side who pushed us hard when they came to Emirates Airline Park earlier this year (the Lions won 34-29). It’s going to be good for us to have a real pressure-filled game ahead of the playoffs.”
Not surprisingly, Ackermann has picked his strongest team for the trip to Durban. The squad includes no less than 12 Springboks, including Janse van Rensburg on the bench, with Ruan Ackermann hanging onto the No 8 jersey in regular skipper Warren Whiteley’s absence. Jaco Kriel will again lead the side.
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