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News

Alberts’ destined for a more prominent role on the remainder of the Lions’ tour of Australasia

Willem Alberts’ is destined for a more accentuated role on the remainder of the Lions’ tour of Australasia.

The flank has to assume greater responsibility partly because of the ankle injury that has ruled Vincent Tshituka out of the remainder of the team’s four-match tour to the Antipodes.

Tshituka returned home following the Lions’ 29-17 defeat at the hands of the Waratahs in Sydney last Friday.

He will undergo surgery on his ankle on Wednesday but the full prognosis of his injury is not yet clear.

In the meantime Alberts‚ who has gradually been nursed to full fitness after he arrived from Stade Francais with a bicep injury‚ will have to play a more prominent role not just in game time output but in leadership in the touring team.

The Lions at times looked devoid of direction with Elton Jantjies in charge against the Waratahs but it is an issue team management have failed to act on decisively.

Jantjies was made captain on a game by game basis with the Lions perhaps taking the more long term view that Jaco Kriel will return to fitness and take over the captain’s armband.

Kriel‚ who returned from Gloucester‚ is at least a month away from making his return from long term injury and then it will take him a few weeks to get fully up to speed.

All of this of course is a knock on effect from the long term injury to regular captain Warren Whiteley who is set to miss the entire campaign. Whiteley is on the coaching staff as a line-out consultant.

Add to that the fact that in Ivan van Rooyen the Lions very much have a coach in the embryonic phase of his development as a Super Rugby head coach.

It isn’t just leadership the Lions need to find sooner rather than later. Their game has displayed several fault lines over the first month of Super Rugby.

Following their defeat in Sydney they boast just one win in four matches and they looked like a team in urgent need of revision in the basic elements of their game.

They will need to improve immeasurably if they are to spoil the Rebels’ homecoming following the Melbourne side’s away win over the Highlanders in Dunedin last Friday.

The Rebels will be fired up on the occasion of lock Matt Philip’s 50th Super Rugby cap. It also happens to be his 26th birthday.

In some ways Philip is expecting a bigger challenge from the Lions.

“They’re a big pack – bigger than the Highlanders – and they love their maul.

“For me personally‚ it doesn’t really change week to week. I’ve just got to bring a solid set piece‚ try get my hands on the ball and get forward for the team around the park.”

– TimesLIVE

Source: TMG Digital.