Lions coach Johan Ackermann may be forced to change a third of his team as mounting injuries and a looming four week Vodacom Super Rugby tour compound his headaches ahead of Saturday’s clash against the DHL Stormers at Newlands.
Ackermann has already lost fullback Andries Coetzee (knee) and midfielder Alwyn Hollenbach (lip) and could lose another three players before he names his team on Thursday.
While some of the players are on the borderline whether or not they can play, Ackermann will need to weigh up whether or not to risk them this week or give them a rest to ensure they are ready for the team’s tour in a fortnight.
The Lions will be without the services of fullback Andries Coetzee and utility back Alwyn Hollenbach for their Super Rugby clash against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday.
Coetzee, who recently returned to the playing field after injuring his left knee in pre-season, injured it again against the Sharks last weekend.
Sharks Director of Rugby Jake White is yet to decide whether Frans Steyn or Tim Swiel will start at flyhalf against the Cheetahs this weekend.
Fred Zeilinga injured his hamstring in the victory over the Lions at Ellis Park last Saturday and was replaced by Steyn who shifted from inside centre and performed well at pivot.
Zeilinga joins first-choice flyhalf Pat Lambie on the sidelines, with his injury expected to rule him out for a couple of weeks, which leaves White with an interesting decision.
Highlanders flank TJ Ioane has been ruled out of his team’s two-match tour of South Africa due to a calf strain.
The explosive loose forward has been sidelined for the two home wins against the Rebels and Bulls, and has since been ruled out of their South African trip which features clashes against the Stormers and Sharks.
The Chiefs have been given a boost for this weekend’s Super Rugby match against a resurgent Crusaders team in Hamilton on Saturday as Brodie Retallick has been passed fit.
Retallick was forced to leave the field in Saturday’s ninth round match against the Melbourne Rebels after suffering a head knock but looks OK to play this weekend.
Waratahs back-rower Wycliff Palu is in doubt for this weekend’s Super Rugby clash against the Bulls in Sydney this week following the death of his father last week.
Prop Sekope Kepu and his teammates say that as much as they need in form Palu in the team they will understand if he is unable to play.
Former All Black Piri Weepu could potentially make a miraculous return to playing Super Rugby this weekend when the Blues face the Hurricanes in Wellington.
Thirty-year-old halfback Weepu has made a full recovery from a minor stroke and heart surgery and has returned to training.
Weepu says that he went through an emotional time a couple of weeks ago when he revealed that he had had a stroke before his two Super Rugby matches in South Africa and also a hole in his heart.
Springbok and Toulon lock Bakkies Botha has tweeted an X-ray showing nine steel pins inserted into a plate in his broken arm.
The Springbok and Toulon lock successfully underwent an operation to have a plate inserted in his arm after he broke it in Toulon’s 23-10 Top 14 defeat against Brive.
Botha is expected be out for two-and-a-half months, and he has indicated that his rehabilitation is on track.
Squad captain Jean de Villiers, prop Pat Cilliers and lock / flank Jurie van Vuuren are all back on deck this week, and available for selection against the Lions.
Hookers Scarra Ntubeni and Tiaan Liebenberg and wing Kobus van Wyk are not available for selection as yet, whilst flank Schalk Burger and winger Cheslin Kolbe will be given until later in the week to see if they are available.
Andries Coetzee has been sent to a surgeon to reassess his knee which may require a clean up, potentially ruling him out for a week or two.
Coetzee suffered knee ligament damage in the Lions pre-season warm up match against the Eastern Province Kings and has not featured in the Lions campaign until last weekend’s 25-12 loss to the Sharks.
Clyde Rathbone insists he is ready for a Super Rugby recall if required after making a successful comeback from injury on Saturday.
The South African-born Rathbone surprised many by joining up with the Brumbies’ Super Rugby squad at the end of the 2012 season – he announced his retirement in 2009.
England and Saracens flyhalf Owen Farrell is in doubt for the rest of season after he was forced to leave the field at half time in the Premiership leaders 28-24 win over second-placed Northampton on Sunday.
Farrell had to be relieved of kicking duties by Argentina’s Marcelo Bosch and didn’t take the field in the second half at Saracens’ home ground in Hendon, north-west London.
England head coach Stuart Lancaster will be hoping that Farrell is fit enough for their end of season tour of New Zealand.
Vodacom Bulls coach Frans Ludeke will know on Wednesday if he could select Jurgen Visser, Flip van der Merwe and Akona Ndungane for this weekend’s Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Waratahs in Sydney.
The Blues have called Hawke’s Bay Magpies and Maori All Blacks first five-eighths Ihaia West into their Super Rugby squad as replacement for the injured Baden Kerr who has been ruled out for the rest of the season.
After fracturing a bone at the base of his thumb in a pre-season match against the Hurricanes, 24-year-old Kerr then fractured two fingers playing rugby for his club side Karaka last month and was forced to have surgery, ruling him out of action for at least 12 weeks.
Legendary All Black Brad Thorn’s ageing body has broken down for a second time this season, a bicep injury ruling him out or the remainder of the Super Rugby competition.
It was revealed that the 39-year-old lock forward tore his bicep in the Highlanders’ 27-20 win over the Bulls in Dunedin at the weekend.
The Vodacom Bulls were forced into a late change to their backline and bench on Thursday when Akona Ndungane pulled a hamstring during the team’s captains run in Dunedin ahead of their Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Highlanders in the Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday.
Springbok Sevens forward Chris Dry will miss the last two rounds of the HSBC Sevens World Series in Glasgow and London as a result of the back injury he sustained in Hong Kong, the South African Rugby Union confirmed on Wednesday.
The Reds have lost Wallabies wing Lachie Turner for five weeks due to ankle surgery in a blow ahead of their crunch Super Rugby match against the Brumbies.
Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar is in a race against time to be fit for the June Tests after injuring his AC joint playing for his Irish team Ulster.
The Lions will be holding thumbs that their winger Courtnall Skosan is cleared to play ahead of their crucial Vodacom Super Rugby match against the Cell C Sharks on Saturday.
Skosan failed a concussion test on Monday and has been sent for further tests, with the medical team deciding on Tuesday whether or not he will play, but coach Johan Ackermann is hoping the nippy wing will be cleared to take his place for the last home game before the Lions go on tour.
Constant change of personnel as a consequence of regular injuries has taken its toll on the Stormers, according to coach Allister Coetzee.
The Stormers have now replaced the Cheetahs at the bottom of the Super Rugby log following their 22-11 loss to the Waratahs at Newlands on Saturday, marking a sixth defeat in seven matches this season.
“We’ve had to change personnel week in and week out and many of the players coming in lack experience,” Coetzee said after the game in Cape Town.
The Vodacom Bulls will limp into Queenstown on Monday to nurse their wounds and get themselves up and ready for Saturday’s second tour challenge against the Highlanders in Dunedin.
The Bulls have chosen the holiday resort for a few days before heading to Dunedin on Thursday, and it couldn’t come at a better time as they lost both Dewald Potgieter (torn bicep) and Deon Stegmann (torn groin muscle) on Saturday.
The Waratahs have called utility back Ben Volavola into their squad as emergency injury cover after injuries to wingers Peter Betham and Alofa Alofa.
The Waratahs beat the Stormers 11-22 in Cape Town on Saturday but the victory came at a cost as Betham and Alofa were both injured in the battle.
Chiefs’ flyhalf Aaron Cruden will miss six to eight weeks of Super Rugby after breaking his thumb in a dramatic draw with the Central Cheetahs, the club said on Monday.
In a major dent to the Chiefs’ hopes of securing three titles in a row, the 25-year-old had an X-ray following the 43-43 draw in Bloemfontein which confirmed his left thumb was fractured.
Springbok and Bath flank Francois Louw’s ankle injury does not require surgery, which means he will be able to play again this season.