Sport / Rugby

Ross Roche
Senior sports writer
2 minute read
18 Oct 2021
11:41 am

Lions boss outlines plans for URC break, big guns set to return

Ross Roche

Some formerly injured players, including Springbok Willem Alberts, could be back in action when the competition resumes.

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen. Picture: Frikkie Kapp/Gallo Images

The Lions players are back on home soil and heading into a well deserved break while the United Rugby Championship breaks for the November international window.

The team will only be back in action on the last weekend of November when the South African sides will finally host their first games in the competition after they were originally set to play those games in Italy due to being on the UK red list.

“It’s unbelievable news for us; it takes travel and planning and a little bit of travel fatigue and all that out and the best bed to sleep in is always your own bed in terms of performance and preparation,” said Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

“We are still taking two weeks off… the guys really need to rest and recover, but in saying that it’s not feet on the couch.

“We feel that there are a lot of mini areas, like skill development, that they don’t have to come in to do, so we will send them home with quite an extensive individual work-out which is exciting for me.

“Once we come back it is three weeks of extremely tough specific smart preparation. The last two weeks I honestly believe our preparation in the week complimented us to perform better and I really want us to build on that… so good tough training, but very specific, in how we want to play and get the outcomes we want.”

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When the team gets back together in two weeks the Lions will also be excited to welcome a number of injured players back into the squad, which will bolster them ahead of the matches against Cardiff and Munster at Ellis Park.

That includes at the problem position of flyhalf where loan player Eddie Fouche is expected to recover in time for the two games and could be in the frame to start, with regular starter Jordan Hendrikse ruled out for the next few months with a leg fracture.

However EW Viljoen, who deputised at flyhalf in the Lions’ last two games of their European tour, is another option having impressed in the matches against Glasgow Warriors and Ulster.

“There are guys back home who didn’t make the touring squad or were injured, and there are also guys on this tour who’ll be able to get the niggles out over the next two weeks,” explained Van Rooyen

“Willem Alberts is still back home and JP Smith should be ready to go once we play again, while we had good feedback (on injuries) on Eddie (Fouche) and Pieter (Janse van Vuuren).

“I think the last two games he (Viljoen) has actually shown his versatility, so having someone that can play multiple positions obviously helps and he showed us that he is another option at 10 for us and we can play a little bit of a different game with him at 10.”