The Lions will be sweating over the availability of star left wing Aphiwe Dyantyi ahead of Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Dyantyi‚ who scored a glorious individualistic try against the Waratahs in the Lions’ 44-26 semifinal win‚ did not return for the second half due to a hamstring injury.
The Springbok was replaced by fellow international Courtnall Skosan‚ who scored a try shortly before the full-time siren.
"Let’s hope he’s fine‚" said coach Swys de Bruin, referring to Dyantyi. "He has a hamstring that twitched. But … Courtnall is brilliant as well."
Dyantyi‚ however‚ possesses the star quality the Lions will need in large supply if they are to rewrite history in Christchurch, where the Crusaders are yet to lose a knockout match.
He has the speed and skill to make inroads against the Crusaders‚ particularly the man he is likely to go up against, Seta Tamanivalu‚ who scored the first try in 2017’s final at Ellis Park.
Apart from Skosan‚ De Bruin was full of praise for the Lions substitutes after their win over the Waratahs.
"The subs were fantastic‚" De Bruin said. "How was Marnus Schoeman? Every single sub made a massive difference."
The unheralded Schoeman has made quite an impact while on loan from the Pumas.
He ups the intensity and provides thrust in the last quarter. Not that the Lions forwards failed to make an impact against the Waratahs. They made significant gains in the scrum‚ while their driving maul had the visitors on the back foot.
They will need both facets to operate optimally against the well-drilled Crusaders.
"The pack was unreal. They laid a fantastic platform‚" De Bruin said.
While lamenting the team’s poor start‚ De Bruin was chuffed with his team’s ability to bounce back again.
"[There was] brilliant leadership from Warren Whiteley‚" he said. "The calling was good. They stuck to the plan and that is massive for the belief. It speaks a lot about the character in the team," De Bruin said.
"Elton [Jantjies] will make calls other flyhalves won’t make. Look at that cross-kick: pinpoint. That is what I like about the decision makers. Ross [Cronjé] when he kicks‚ Kwagga [Smith] when he sets off. He’s just relentless. He was special. He was the injection."
De Bruin recognises that the exceptional will have to be the order of the day if they are to cause an upset in Christchurch.
"We are blessed to get the chance to go to [play against] the best team in the world. I watched them [against the Hurricanes]; they are unreal. We have to find a crack in that armour," he said.