The Lions’ fears have been confirmed with captain Warren Whitely being ruled out for at least six weeks.
The Lions’ medical team announced on Monday night that Whiteley had a pectoral muscle tear which he sustained in the Super Rugby match against the Stormers in Cape Town last week.
While the tendon was intact, Whiteley would not be available for his team’s big Super Rugby derby against the Bulls at Ellis Park this weekend.
According to Lions team doctor Rob Collins, Whitely would be in recovery for six to eight weeks.
Ironically, the Bulls will also be without their captain, the influential Lood de Jager.
The towering lock trudged off with a shoulder injury in Buenos Aires at the weekend.
However, he’s currently only projected to be out for two weeks.
Meanwhile, star flank Kwagga Smith believed the Lions had only themselves to blame after a lukewarm performance in the second half allowed the Stormers back into their tight game at Newlands.
Smith, who was named Manof-the-Match, moved to No 8 after Whiteley was injured during the fixture, which the Stormers clinched with a narrow 19-17 win.
Though he made the most carries against the Stormers with 13, Smith admitted the Lions needed to address a few areas before their first home match against the Bulls, with both teams looking to bounce back from defeats.
“It was definitely not the greatest play by us, especially in the second-half,” Smith said in a postmatch interview on SuperSport.
“Our intensity dropped a bit and we didn’t come out firing to build on the two tries we scored in the first half, and that’s why the Stormers came back.”
Smith missed the previous week’s trip to Argentina because of a calf injury, but he believed the tour could have played a role in their second-half effort at Newlands.
“I can’t judge on that because I wasn’t there, but I think the other guys got a bit tired towards the end. But it’s not an excuse not to come back, and we should have been more switched on in the last 40 minutes,” he said.
“Our defence was still good but our discipline let us down a bit, so we’ve definitely got to go and work on that this week.”
Controlling matters for most of the game, the Lions should have been out of touch of their opponents by the closing stages, and Smith felt there was a lesson to be taken from their failure to wrap things up.