Heinke van der Merwe has been ruled out of for at least four months with a knee injury.
Van der Merwe was stretchered off five minutes into the second half of the Lions’ impressive 31-20 victory over the Reds. Lions manager Mustapha Boomgard told keo.co.za that Van der Merwe will not play again in the tournament.
‘The doctor told us Heinke will be out for between four and six months,’ said Boomgard. ‘It’s a patella tendon injury and is obviously very serious.’
Van der Merwe is another senior Lions player unavailable for the clash with the Force. Captain Baywatch Grobbelaar and fullback Louis Ludik have already flown back to South Africa, while Jaque Fourie is also in doubt with an eye injury.
‘Jaque will have a test on Monday to see whether he’s fit to play,’ said Boomgard.
Van der Merwe’s omission will be a big blow as the Lions aim to topple the Force on their final tour match. The Force’s tight five is a glaring weakness, especially at scrum time, but without the Bok loosehead it is doubtful whether the Lions will be able to take advantage.
JC Janse van Rensburg replaced Van der Merwe on Saturday, but Lawrence Sephaka could shift to loosehead with Gert Muller wearing the No 3 jersey.
Van der Merwe was also an outside bet for the Springbok team to face the British & Irish Lions, but will now play no part in the tour.
By Grant Ball