Injured Jaco Kriel looks likely to miss the Rugby Championship
Already a doubtful starter for the three Test series against England‚ Jaco Kriel’s season took a turn for the worse with the news that he has to have another operation on his troublesome shoulder.
He will be sidelined for the next six months which means he will in all probability miss out on selection in the Rugby Championship.
The Bok flank‚ who injured his shoulder in last year’s drawn Test against Australia in Perth‚ missed the end of the domestic season as well as the Springboks’ end of year tour to Europe last year.
He was expected to make a return next month but the Lions revealed on Wednesday that the operation Kriel underwent last September had not yielded the desired results.
“Due to unforeseen circumstances the operation that Jaco Kriel underwent on his shoulder was unsuccessful and needs to be repeated on Thursday 8 March 2018.
"The Lions Rugby Company will communicate further information as it becomes available without compromising the players privacy‚” the Lions said in a statement.
The Lions started the season with Kwagga Smith and Cyle Brink on the side of the scrum but the former who is on Sevens duty made way for Franco Mostert in last weekend’s clash against the Bulls at Loftus.
Mostert may return to the second row for this weekend’s game against the Blues at Ellis Park which may open up a spot for Hacjivah Dyamani or Marnus Schoeman.
With the Lions now set to play home fixtures against the Blues and the Sunwolves, coach Swys de Bruin can afford to rotate his squad.
De Bruin has made a seamless transition into the job vacated by Johan Ackermann having steered the team to three successive wins at the start of the new campaign.
On Saturday the Lions face a Blues team struggling to assert themselves against New Zealand opposition going 13 matches without a win against their countrymen.
Their most immediate concern‚ however‚ is addressing their poor form on South African soil having recorded just one win here since 2012.
That win came over the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth in 2016.
On their last visit to Johannesburg in 2016 they were walloped 43-5 by the Lions.
The Blues have since‚ however‚ developed into a more cohesive unit under former All Blacks utility back Tana Umaga.
They showed encouraging signs in their first match against the Highlanders in Dunedin but they again disappointed at home against their nemesis‚ the Chiefs last weekend.
The Lions name their team to play the Blues on Thursday.