While the Stormers will also be disrupted by the Cape Town camp – which started yesterday and runs to Wednesday – the Lions will be especially hard hit.
The two teams meet at Newlands on Saturday in what is shaping up to be a key game in the race for conference title honours. A win for the Lions would leave the Stormers having to beat the Sharks in their last match in Durban next weekend if they’re to win the conference and qualify automatically for the play-offs, while the Lions have a bye on the final weekend.
“It’s massive,” said Lions boss Johan Ackermann about the camp in Cape Town. He’ll be without key players Warren Whiteley, Faf de Klerk, Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe for the bulk of this week.
“The camp’s going to have an impact for both teams, but it’s going to influence us more,” said Ackermann.
“The guys fly out tomorrow (yesterday), fly back on Wednesday, and then we fly down to Cape Town as a team later in the week. It’s something we can’t change. The Boks are the main focus in 2015.”
Ackermann said he would have to work smartly this week. “We’ll keep things simple and come up with a simple game plan so there won’t be too much information to take in for the players coming back in. Also, we’re somehow going to have to get those players refreshed. They’ll train with the Boks on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday and then we’ll have them on Thursday and Friday.
“It’s a bad time for us. But, hopefully we’ll be able to adapt so it doesn’t influence our performance on Saturday against the Stormers.”
The other Lions player who’ll be at the camp this week is hooker Robbie Coetzee, but he’s serving a suspension and is currently not available for Super Rugby action. Ackermann, though, will at least be able to work with the bulk of his squad, including his impressive front row forwards, lock Franco Mostert and flankers Jaco Kriel and Warwick Tecklenburg, who can all count themselves unfortunate to not be part of the national picture. Also, one’s got to wonder how far away from a national call-up the likes of Harold Vorster and Ruan Combrinck are – two players who have grown immensely in 2015.
The Bulls players won’t attend the camp as they complete their overseas assignments this weekend. Meyer is due to announce his first Bok squad of the year in the next few weeks. - The Star
Original source: Lions hard hit by Bok training camp