The Lions’ depth at loose forward is set to be further tested after it was confirmed that Vincent Tshituka would need surgery on his ankle.
Tshituka had been in impressive form since making his senior debut in 2019, carrying that over to the 2020 Vodacom Super Rugby season.
There were even rumours that he was catching the eye of Springbok management, but he is now set for an extended spell on the sidelines.
The 21-year-old suffered an ankle injury in the loss to the Waratahs in Sydney last weekend and was forced to return to South Africa, with Ruan Vermaak flying out to Melbourne as his replacement.
It has now been confirmed that Tshituka suffered a grade-three sprain and will undergo surgery to repair the damage.
The Lions are already without captain Warren Whiteley, who has been appointed as the team’s lineout coach while he continues to recover from successive knee injuries. Cyle Brink is another long-term absentee after he was ruled out for the season after an ankle-tendon injury in the pre-season.
Willem Alberts may make his first start since returning to the side against the Rebels this weekend, after being used off the bench in the last two games. Another returning loose forward in Jaco Kriel is only set to be fit to play between the end of March and beginning of April.
The Lions could also choose to bring Hacjivah Dayimani into the starting lineup at No 8, with Len Massyn switching to blindside flank.
Photo: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images