Fourie to lead Lions

Captain Baywatch Grobbelaar and Doppies la Grange have been ruled out of the Lions’ match against the Blues on Friday.

La Grange didn’t return after half-time in the Lions’ 36-29 loss to the Chiefs, while Grobbelaar limped off 10 minutes into the second half. Coach Loffie Eloff told keo.co.za from the team’s hotel in Auckland the pair will not face the Blues.

‘Baywatch [ankle] and Doppies [hamstring] won’t play this weekend,’ said Eloff. ‘They could’ve played at a push but we didn’t want to risk them and we expect them back for the following game [against the Reds].

‘Jaque Fourie will now captain the side.’

Jannes Labuschagne and Todd Clever also didn’t finish the match but will be fit to play. Grobbelaar’s forced omission will see either Willem Alberts or Franco van der Merwe starting in the loose trio with Clever taking over the fetching duties.

‘We have lots of options and our selection will go according to how we want to play,’ said Eloff.

Jannie Boshoff, Deon van Rensburg or Earl Rose could partner Fourie in the midfield. None of the trio are specialist No 12s and it will be interesting to see what combination Eloff selects.

Fourie’s form has been one of the few positives for the side, and he could even shift to inside centre. Boshoff and Van Rensburg don’t have the distributional skills to fill the role, while Rose’s defensive frailties will be exposed at 12.

The Lions let a 19-point lead slip heading into the final quarter against the Chiefs, and while Eloff admitted the team disastrously strayed from the game-plan, he emphasised the fatigue his team suffered from in the second half.

‘I thought we played extremely well. After our flight was delayed last week jetlag hit us in the final 20 minutes after making 161 tackles in the match, while we also only had one training session in the build-up. That took it’s toll as we began coming up slower in defence and falling off crucial tackles.

‘However, we still had them against the ropes, but then tried to run too much when we should’ve kicked for the corners and slowed the game down. We did manage to surprise the top form side when everyone expected us to take 50 points,’ said Eloff.

Due to this taxing fixture Eloff’s charges have had a low-key start to the week as they prepare for the Blues.

‘Sunday and Monday have mostly been about rest, recuperation and rehabilition for the boys. We are now focusing on the next game and are targeting maximum points – then the New Zealand part of the tour will be a success.’

By Grant Ball