Lions lose pivotal No 8

X-rays of Ernst Joubert’s cheekbone on Monday revealed that the Lions will have to secure a spot in the playoffs without his assistance.

The ever-improving No 8 took a knee to the face in last weekend’s game against Griquas, but finished the game regardless. Subsequent X-rays indicated the extent of the injury, and so he will miss Saturday’s game against Vodacom Western Province as well as the final league game against the Pumas.

The good news for the Lions is that lock Anton van Zyl should be fit to play. Van Zyl suffered a severe cut to his mouth at a practice last week, and although he won’t take any contact during this week’s training sessions, he is expected to run out against WP.

Meanwhile, Province have a few injury concerns of there own. There is doubt that locks Francois van der Merwe (shoulder), Selborne Boome (knee) and centre Corne Uys (shoulder) will feature in Saturday’s encounter. Second rower Ross Skeate is also uncertain of a return to the squad, with the ankle injury sustained in the Vodacom Blue Bulls game still ailing him.

The depth in the second row has taken a further knock with the announcement that Rob Linde has been released by the WP Rugby union to further his career with French club Bayonne.