The Citizen (KZN)

Lions brace for two huge weeks

STORMERS AWAY, THEN JAGUARES AT HOME Ackermann holds his breath on Coetzee as his charges gear up for the daunting trip to Newlands.

- Rudolph Jacobs

Starting this weekend the Lions face a few weeks that could prove to be decisive in the outcome of their Super Rugby fortunes this year. While the Lions are still topping the Africa 2 Conference, they are just a single point ahead of the chasing Sharks with the Jaguares also still within striking distance.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann said aside from the acid test they face against the unbeaten Stormers this weekend in Cape Town, hosting the Jaguares next weekend at Ellis Park before embarking on their away leg will also be a massive trial by fire.

“If you look at what the Stormers did to the Chiefs and the Cheetahs it’s going to be another huge challenge,” said Ackermann.

After hosting the Jaguares Ackermann’s charges will face the Force, Rebels and Brumbies on consecutiv­e weekends away from home and fly back from Australia to host the Bulls.

“It’s not getting any easier after the Stormers game when we have to play the Jaguares. We all know what they can do and then we’ll have to jump on the plane,”

It’s not getting any easier after the Stormers game when we have to play the Jaguares. Johan Ackermann

he said.

The Lions yesterday released their medical report where it was confirmed that wing Ruan Combrinck will only return at the earliest for next weekend’s match against the Argentine outfit.

There’s also still doubt over the hamstring injury of fullback Andries Coetzee and he will be getting as much time as possible to recover with a decision only expected at the end of the week after he will have to undergo a fitness test.

Fullback Jaco van der Walt will be out of action for four more weeks with a foot injury, while prop Dylan Smith has been ruled out for six months after a second shoulder operation.

Ackermann will announce his team tomorrow for the clash at Newlands, and apart from the doubt over Coetzee, will retain most of the side who battled to beat the Sharks 34-29 at Ellis Park before their bye last week.

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