Loffie’s back row blues

Lions captain Ernst Joubert and Willem Alberts will miss the first three weeks of the Super 14 due to injury.

The two loose forwards were injured in the Lions’ recent 28-14 loss to the Bulls in Windhoek. Joubert took a knee in the back while Alberts injured his knee and both have been ruled out of Saturday’s opening fixture against the Cheetahs.

Joe van Niekerk is fully fit but will be used off the bench. Although Eloff will only name his team later in the week, Cobus Grobbelaar could start in the back row alongside Franco van der Merwe and Wilhelm Koch. New man RW Kember is another option at No 8.

Hooker Ethienne Reynecke, lock Anton van Zyl and scrumhalf Jano Vermaak are also injury concerns at this stage. If Vermaak is ruled out, former Eastern Province No 9 Chris Jonck could make his debut for the franchise after an impressive pre-season. Jonck scored a brace against the Blue Bulls Vodacom Cup team and performed well in the subsequent matches against the Bulls and Sharks.