Minnie, a former Lions captain, fractured his cheekbone in their round two clash with the Stormers in the Lion’s Den, won handsomely 34-10 by the Lions, but now he has been cleared to strengthen the side.
Having missed the last four clashes against the Sharks, Bulls, Blues and Reds, however, could see Minnie start from the bench initially, with the loose trio of Jaco Kriel, Willie Britz and captain Warren Whiteley likely to be kept intact. The Lions, the surprise package of this year’s competition, have a tough fixture list, starting at Ellis Park against the under-performing Crusaders, then the Sharks and Stormers, before their crucial away leg, which will determine their season, according to coach Johan Ackermann.
And the injury bogey has already raised its head, with hooker Robbie Coetzee (knee), lock Franco van der Merwe (ankle) and now fullback Coenie van Wyk (knee) on the injured list.
Other injured players – wing Anthony Volmink, flyhalf Elton Jantjies, centre Alwyn Hollenback and fullback Andries Coetzee have just recently returned from injury. “The next three weeks will be decisive, while our four-match tour could be a big learning curve for some of the inexperienced players who have not toured in the past,” said Ackermann.
On tour the Lions start with the tough one first against the Chiefs, followed by the Highlanders, Waratahs and Force – all teams that count among the form-teams in the competition. But first they have to account for the Crusaders and then will welcome the Sharks for the return derby, before going down to Cape Town – where they can expect a vengeful Stormers side after handing them defeat at Ellis Park earlier this season.