After ending their Super Rugby campaign on a high by winning their last three matches, much is expected of the Lions in the Currie Cup competition which kicks off in a fortnight against the Blue Bulls at fortress Ellis Park.
Some eyebrows were raised when Minnie was confined to the Lions bench in the last two Super Rugby games, with Jaco Kriel and Warwick Tecklenburg preferred as the starting flankers.
But coach Johan Ackermann said it was a turn of events which led to Minnie, who is still held in high regard by the Lions management, being forced to fight his way back.
“Unfortunately for Derick, he fractured his cheekbone against the Stormers as early as our second game,” said Ackermann.
“In his absence, Jaco and Warwick performed really well for us and when Derick came back, it would have been an injustice to simply push them aside.”
But Minnie would be back in contention, said Ackermann of the star flanker who made his Lions debut in 2006, his Super Rugby debut in 2010, and played three games on loan for the Sharks last season.
“When the Currie Cup starts, our rotation policy will come into play and we need all our top players. Everyone just wants to play every weekend, that’s how energetic and enthusiastic the entire group is,” he said.
The Lions also still have versatile loose forward Willie Britz on board. He is to join the Cheetahs next season but is still available for the Lions for the Currie Cup campaign.