Super Rugby

No mental scars for Elton Jantjies and his troops as Lions avert Covid-19 outbreak

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Lions skipper Elton Jantjies and coach Ivan van Rooyen
Lions skipper Elton Jantjies and coach Ivan van Rooyen
  • Elton Jantjies is confident he and his Lions team-mates won't carry any mental scars into their Super Rugby Unlocked meeting with Griquas on Friday after a tough week.
  • The Lions were given the green light to host the match after their latest round of Covid-19 tests reported a clean bill of health.
  • Dr Rob Collins, the team doctor, said that the NICD ruled that the squad couldn't be classified as being hit by an outbreak of the virus.

Elton Jantjies, in his customary calm manner, has given the assurance that he and his Lions team-mates aren't carrying any mental scars from a tough week where Covid-19 dominated their working lives.

SA Rugby and the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) on Wednesday gave the franchise a green light to host Friday's Super Rugby Unlocked match against Griquas at Ellis Park after a mandatory round of testing delivered no new infections.

Last week, six players tested positive, prompting the meeting with the Cheetahs to be postponed.

"It's been quite simple to stay positive," said Jantjies when asked about the mental state of the squad following the uncertainty.

"When you've been in lockdown for seven months and then have to self-isolate again for two or three days (as was required at the start of the week before the testing was done), then you're going to be positive.

"We actually prepared quite well last week before the postponement. We had a Covid matter at hand but put it behind us. It's a new week and another opportunity to play, a blessing."

Teams:
Lions

15 Gianni Lombard, 14 Stean Pienaar, 13 Wandisile Simelane, 12 Dan Kriel, 11 Courtnall Skosan, 10 Elton Jantjies (captain), 9 Morné van den Berg, 8 Len Massyn, 7 Vince Tshituka, 6 MJ Pelser, 5 Marvin Orie, 4 Ruben Schoeman, 3 Carlu Sadie, 2 Jaco Visagie, 1 Sti Sithole.

Substitutes: 16 PJ Botha, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Jannie du Plessis, 19 Reinhard Nothnagel, 20 Jaco Kriel, 21 Ross Cronjé, 22 Burger Odendaal, 23 Tiaan Swanepoel.

Griquas

15 James Verity-Amm, 14 Ederies Arendse, 13 Harlon Klaasen, 12 André Swarts, 11 Eduan Keyter, 10 George Whitehead (captain), 9 Zak Burger, 8 Carl Els, 7 Stefan Willemse, 6 Gideon van der Merwe, 5 Adré Smith, 4 Mzwanele Zito, 3 Ewald van der Westhuizen, 2 HJ Luus, 1 Andrew Beerwinkel.

Substitutes: 16 Monde Hadebe, 17 Mox Mxoli, 18 John-Roy Jenkinson, 19 Johan Momsen, 20 Ewan Coetzee, 21 Theo Maree, 22 Tinus de Beer, 23 Masixole Banda, 24 Bandisa Ndlovu, 25 CJ Velleman, 26 Jonathan Francke.

That sentiment is shared by Ivan van Rooyen, the head coach, who expressed how "proud" he's been of his charges' adaptability.

"We really felt that transparency was the way to go with the players this week," he said.

"We've been open. We had virtual meetings this week where we've consistently been telling them what's going on, what our plans are for the game and all the relevant detail.

"I really need to commend the players. We really feel that they're mentally in a good space."

Easing the burden of staying calm and focused was undeniably the news that the NICD eventually didn't classify the team's initial spurt of positive tests as an outbreak.

"We did another set of tests on Tuesday before SA Rugby's head of medical, Clint Redhead, and myself had a meeting with the NICD," said Dr Rob Collins, the Lions' team doctor.

"We discussed the previous positive tests, who was in contact with whom, for them to determine whether there was an outbreak and whether it was contained or not.

"The NICD determined that the containment steps we took were adequate. Firstly, they said there wasn't an outbreak and secondly, we'd done enough to control the spread of the virus. So we are therefore able to play."

While it seems unlikely that last weekend's meeting with the Cheetahs can be rescheduled in a congested calendar - which would mean both teams are awarded two log points - Van Rooyen said that discussions are still ongoing.

"It's a discussion that's happening at board level as well as with the relevant members of SA Rugby. If we're still privileged enough to play that game, it would be great. 

"But if we can't, then it is what it is. We'd love to catch up."

Kick-off at Ellis Park is at 19:00.

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