Stand-in skipper: Franco Mostert, who has been in superb form, will captain the Lions in place of the injured Warren Whiteley on Saturday. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Stand-in skipper: Franco Mostert, who has been in superb form, will captain the Lions in place of the injured Warren Whiteley on Saturday. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Ordinarily the Lions facing the Sunwolves could be said to fall squarely in the realm of "routine"‚ but Saturday’s Super Rugby clash at Ellis Park will be anything but routine.

The Lions’ shock defeat at home against the Blues last Saturday has brought an unexpected edge and urgency to this weekend’s clash.

Lions’ forwards coach Philip Lemmer is in little doubt that the match is an opportunity for the team to get back on track.

"We stumbled last week and we are fully aware of the importance of winning all your home games. We have to set things right this week.

"Last weekend we didn’t put their forwards under enough pressure," Lemmer lamented.

The Lions were tactically naïve as they played into the Blues’ hands in the second half.

Their cause was not helped by the fact that captain Warren Whiteley was forced to leave the field with a knee injury in the first half.

Still‚ they had enough Super Rugby and Test campaigners on the field to ride the storm and grind out a win. The fact that they relinquished a 28-10 lead poses questions of the rest of their leadership.

With Whiteley now likely to be out for a month‚ lock Franco Mostert looks set to lead the team, with flyhalf Elton Jantjies as his deputy.

"Warren is an exceptional player and leader and there is no doubt that we will miss him," said Lemmer.

"He brings calmness and composure and that will be missed. Having said that‚ we have a leadership group in the side that can take responsibility.

"Elton makes the calls at the back‚ while Sous [Mostert] makes the line-out calls."

Mostert has cut a towering figure in the Lions’ pack this season and his leadership style will no doubt involve him setting the example at the front.

The challenge facing the Lions this week is not dissimilar to what they have faced over the past two weeks. Like the Sunwolves‚ the Bulls and the Blues play a high-tempo game and the Lions had mixed success in nullifying that threat.

"We know the Sunwolves try and speed things up‚" said Lemmer. "They are the quickest in the competition in getting the ball in and out of the scrum. They played really well against the Brumbies in Tokyo but they weren’t quite as sharp against the Rebels and Sharks."

Stormers coach Robbie Fleck has been left with no option but to recall utility back Craig Barry from the Cheetahs for this weekend’s match against the Blues at Newlands.

Barry was on loan to the PRO14 team‚ with the understanding that if needed he would be recalled.

Injuries and illness have felled the Stormers’ squad.

Fullback SP Marais is out for two weeks with a rib injury, and wings Seabelo Senatla and Sergeal Petersen are out for an extended period.

Senatla has a groin problem‚ which Fleck said could mean six weeks on the sidelines. Petersen has knee ligament damage and is likely to miss the rest of the Super Rugby campaign.

Barry has made telling contributions for the Cheetahs in the northern hemisphere tournament. He is likely to be on the bench for the match against the Blues.

The injury to Marais means Dillyn Leyds‚ who has played wing‚ fullback and flyhalf already this season‚ will take over from Marais at fullback.

"It is unfortunate for Dillyn that he has to move around a lot‚" Fleck said.

"Dillyn understands the situation we are in‚ though it can’t be easy for him. Fortunately, we have JJ Engelbrecht who can cover both centre and wing‚ and we have called Craig Barry back from the Cheetahs."

As if things couldn’t be worse for the Stormers after losing three matches on tour‚ most of the squad were unable to train on Tuesday due to flu sweeping through the camp.

Lock Pieter-Steph du Toit missed last week’s match against the Highlanders, who beat the Stormers 33-15.

"A really strong dose of flu has hit us‚" Fleck said.

"Pieter-Steph passed his concussion tests last week but was then ruled out of sitting on the bench in Dunedin because of flu. Damian de Allende also had flu and so did SP Marais.

"Now a couple of other boys have it and are resting up in bed."


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