Jordan Hendrikse Lions vs Sharks in URC Gallo

Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse against the Sharks. Photo: Gallo Images.

Lions injury report: It’s not looking good

Injury-ravaged Lions plots upset win over Sharks in round 14 URC clash at Ellis Park.

Jordan Hendrikse Lions vs Sharks in URC Gallo

Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse against the Sharks. Photo: Gallo Images.

The Lions will have to make do without the services of several of its key players in their round 14 URC clash against the Sharks at Ellis Park on Saturday.

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As the seasons heads to its closing stages, injuries are taking its toll on players, but none more so than on the Lions squad members.

Coach Ivan van Rooyen has confirmed that five of his first choice players will be unavailable for selection for this week’s showdown against the Sharks in Durban.

Star centre Henco van Wyk has been ruled with to ankle surgery, along with flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse (shoulder), lock Reinhard Nothnagel and No 8 Francke Horne (both have ankle complaints) and prop Sithembiso Sithole who is nursing a knee knock.

That growing injury list just adds to the Lions woes. The Joburg-based team has won just one of their last five matches and is languishing in 13th position on a 16-team table with a meagre 24 log points from 12 matches played to date.

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Despite all his team’s struggles, Van Rooyen is adamant his team can still turn their fortunes around and he believes the turnaround will start against the Sharks.

“We believe that the difference for us playing against other SA teams to playing European teams is the physicality, but also that they play more dynamic,” the Lions boss explained.

“If you look at the Stormers, Sharks and Bulls, they all attack differently but keep you under constant pressure there.

“So we know we have to chance our arm a little more on attack, and have to force them to make tackles, and take that attack to them, because if you just sit back and kick and defend, especially with the speed of the outside backs of all the SA teams, they’ll punish you.

“Every team’s defensive system is subtly different and I know it’ll be extremely hard on our attack [to break through that]. It’s a combination of confidence and chancing your arm a little bit … sometimes to go for a 50/50 offload and not force another ruck.

“SA teams are similar to what Ulster and Leinster can do to you; if you’re just going to keep on forcing rucks, their defensive cohesion is good enough to force a turnover.”

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The Lions coach added: “We know we just can’t play from ruck to ruck, we have to be more dynamic on attack and also with our kicking game. If you look at the top teams – the Stormers, Bulls, Sharks, Leinsters, Ulsters, Munsters – the point of difference is currently their attacking as well as their defensive kicking game.

“[Saturday] is an opportunity for us to go head to head against a team who, if they’re slightly off on confidence it’s important for us to capitalise. If not, we’ve got to find a way to squeeze them.”

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Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen positive about URC game against Sharks
Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen. Photo: Gallo Images.