Lions face loose trio concern
SPOTLIGHT: Lions star Vincent Tshituka could be out of action for up to two months assistant coach Albert van den Berg revealed.
Tshituka missed last weekend’s United Rugby Championship (URC) 37-47 defeat to the Sharks due to a shoulder injury.
The 23-year-old flank, who has been an integral part of the team set-up, is set to miss the Trans-Jukskei derby against neighbours Bulls on Saturday.
“[Tshituka] has been with us daily, doing some work off the field,” Van den Berg told the media, adding: “I don’t think he’ll be back in at least the next six weeks.
“It’s really a case of strengthening that shoulder of his. It’s going to take some time. The last thing we want is to bring him back [too soon] and have another setback.
“It’s now about focusing on rehab so that he can stay on the field.”
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The news is a massive blow to the Lions’ loose trio stock.
The 23-year-old is the side’s only blindside flank and has been building a solid loose trio combination with Jaco Kriel and Franke Horne.
“Vince is an unbelievably hard worker,” Van den Berg said.
“He is everywhere on the field. He makes tackles, he is a fine ball-carrier and attacks the rucks. He is one of those players who just always gives 100 percent.
“I’m not saying the other doesn’t, but Vince is a specialist in that regard.”
The coach explained: “We don’t quite have the depth for a like-for-like replacement for him as we have a mixture of guys who are generally switched more between No.6 and 8.
“So, Vince is our one out-and-out No 7.
“Ruhan [ Straeuli, who don the No.7 jersey against the Sharks] has come in and was relatively secure under the ball, even if he dropped one kick-off. He’s working on that.
“But overall, it’s an opportunity for us to see who can put up their hands and make a difference.
“We’re definitely missing Vince.”