The news yesterday that 22-year-old centre Harold Vorster will miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season with torn anterior cruciate ligaments in his left knee has left coach Johan Ackermann in something of a pickle.
A keen favourite of employing the rotation policy, Ackermann was set to mix-and-match Vorster, Mnisi and Mapoe throughout the season, in an effort to manage their workload, but he will now have to stick with Mnisi and Mapoe and pray neither pick up a serious injury in the coming weeks and months.
Vorster returned to South Africa from New Zealand on Monday and was set to see a specialist surgeon today after injuring his knee ligaments in the famous win over the Chiefs in Hamilton on Saturday. He is expected to be out of action until October, and is even unlikely to return for the latter stages of the Currie Cup.
It is not only a huge blow to the Lions, who have started the Super Rugby campaign with two away wins, but Vorster himself.
Having made his debut last year, shining in Super Rugby and starting the Currie Cup with a bang, Vorster tore the same left knee ligaments two games into the Currie Cup campaign and didn’t feature again until early this year. By the time he returns to the field he would have played in just two competitive games in a year and a half.
“I’ll know more about the extent of the injury once I’ve seen the doctor,” said Vorster yesterday. “These things happen.”
Mapoe will also not be involved in Saturday’s match against the Highlanders in Dunedin as he, too, returned home last Sunday to be with his girlfriend for the birth of their baby girl. At least he’ll be available to Ackermann and his team when the Lions face up to the Cheetahs at Ellis Park next weekend.
Another player who suffered a setback at the weekend is utility forward Fabian Booysen, who will undergo reconstructive surgery after damaging his left eyelid. He, however, is expected to be back in action towards the end of April.
With Vorster out of the mix, Ackermann will consider Jacques Nel - who’s already joined the Lions in New Zealand - for this weekend’s match, while Stokkies Hanekom is also still in the selection frame.
Booysen’s injury isn’t as serious a blow to the team as that of Vorster as Ackermann can pick either a lock or loose forward in the coming weeks to fill his spot and there are numerous options available to the coach. Martin Muller and Bobby de Wee are the lock options, while Robert Kruger, Ruan Ackermann and Ruaan Lerm appear to be the favourites to fill in for Booysen.
Ackermann will name his team for the Highlanders match tomorrow. – The Star
Original source: Vorster injury blow for Lions