The Citizen (KZN)

Lions may need more grunt

- Ross Roche

The Lions may need to call in some reinforcem­ents ahead of their United Rugby Championsh­ip (URC) clash against Ospreys on Saturday, with prop Asenathi Ntlabakany­e (right) expected to receive a ban after he picked up a red card in their historic win over Connacht.

Ntlabakany­e smashed Connacht flank Conor Oliver with a high tackle early in the game and was given his marching orders by referee Craig Evans. He could possibly miss out on the rest of the Lions European tour after he has faced the URC disciplina­ry committee.

The Lions took five props on tour, with PJ Smith and Morgan Naude the looseheads and Ntlabakany­e, Conraad van Vuuren and Ruan Dreyer the tighthead options, so they may look to bring in another tighthead during the week.

“We are going to take it on merit and wait to see what the outcome is with Ase. He is unlucky. Sometimes it is just the roll of the dice and you get your technique wrong. The refs are there, they are strict and tough on the tackle height,” explained Lions assistant coach Ricardo Loubscher.

“He is a great team guy so we will have to wait and see what the outcome of that will be. We have enough depth (in the position) and if we need to fly in someone, that will be the plan going forward.”

Other than Ntlabakany­e, the Lions are expected to be at full strength for their clash against Ospreys with no serious injuries picked up in the brilliant 38-14 win over Connacht, which Loubscher said the whole coaching team was incredibly proud of.

“We had a medical meeting this morning [yesterday] and we are just waiting for an update from the doc. But at the moment everyone seems good to go and nothing is too serious at this stage,” said Loubscher.

“To get a red card that early in the game really put us under a lot of pressure. But credit to the boys, their ability to adapt and the mindset to go on and put in such a good performanc­e was fantastic.”

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