Lions on the prowl for elusive win in South America
Without the injured Kwagga Smith, the team are pinning hopes on Groom and Jantjies to ease the pressure against physical Jaguares
The Lions will have to go in search of their maiden Super Rugby win on South American soil without tearaway flanker Kwagga Smith.
Smith had joined the Lions’ bulging infirmary and will be out for the next week with a calf strain.
He joins scrumhalf Ross Cronjé‚ lock Stephan Lewies‚ flank Cyle Brink‚ hooker Robbie Coetzee and prop Johannes Jonker on the sidelines.
Smith and Lewies‚ who had to withdraw with a bicep injury‚ are expected to regain fitness in time for the Lions’ following match against the Stormers.
Already thin in their tight five‚ the Lions’ resources are now also stretched in the back row against a side that relishes close combat.
They had the option of slotting the broad-shouldered Robert Kruger into their back row‚ but instead opted for mobility in Marnus Schoeman‚ Hacjivah Dayimani and captain Warren Whiteley.
The tourists will no doubt want to enforce a quick-tempo game on the Jaguares. They are likely to play the bulk of the game under pressure from the hulking Jaguares forwards and will have to take sound tactical options.
The out-of-hand kicking of Nic Groom and Elton Jantjies will be crucial‚ so too the ability of inside centre Harold Vorster to absorb the pressure.
On their previous visits to Buenos Aires the Lions have come up short.
They lost by 12 points in 2016 and 2017 and by 14 points in 2018.
It is worth noting‚ however‚ that the Jaguares vanquished all SA opposition at home in 2018.
They did‚ however‚ crash to defeat against the Crusaders‚ Hurricanes and, remarkably‚ the Reds in 2018.
The Lions will have to improve their record away from home if they are again going to be a force in the competition.
Their only away wins in 2018 came in Pretoria‚ Sydney and Cape Town, but to be fair that is considerably better than the Sharks and the Bulls who won just once on the road‚ and the Stormers who failed to win at all away from Newlands.
The team departs for Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo on Wednesday morning.
The Lions team to play the Jaguares: Andries Coetzee; Courtnall Skosan‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Harold Vorster‚ Aphiwe Dyantyi; Elton Jantjies‚ Nic Groom; Warren Whiteley (captain)‚ Hacjivah Dayimani‚ Marnus Schoeman; Marvin Orie‚ Rhyno Herbst; Carlu Sadie‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Dylan Smith. Replacements: Pieter Jansen‚ Frans van Wyk‚ Jacobie Adriaanse‚ Ruan Vermaak‚ Robert Kruger; Gianni Lombard/Dillon Smit‚ Wandisile Simelane‚ Ruan Combrinck