JOHANNESBURG – When the Lions next play on home soil – on May 11 against the Waratahs – they could have a new defence coach on the sidelines, and possibly even a new stand-in head coach, too.
This follows the “removal” from the side of boss Swys de Bruin, who left the Lions in New Zealand late last week on the eve of the Super Rugby match against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
Defence coach Joey Mongalo also returned home from tour after being convicted and sentenced by a Sydney court for indecent assault, stemming from an incident in a hotel while the Lions were on tour last year.
De Bruin is said to have a “medical condition” – which has been reported to be stress related – for which he is receiving help, and it is not known when he will return to coach the side. Mongalo is apparently set to face a Lions disciplinary hearing in the coming days which will have an outcome on whether he continues in his role with the Lions or not. He has also indicated he will appeal the finding by the Sydney court.
Right now the Lions are being led by regular conditioning coach and the man who took charge during last year’s Currie Cup campaign, Ivan van Rooyen. He oversaw the team’s performance against the Chiefs in Hamilton and will lead the preparations ahead of this week’s outing against the Crusaders in Christchurch.
Van Rooyen will be assisted by De Bruin’s son, Neil, who has been the team’s attack coach since the beginning of last year, and forwards coach Philip Lemmer. Experienced captain Warren Whiteley will also no doubt have a big input. He returned to captain the side against the Chiefs last week after being out of action for seven weeks with a chest muscle injury, suffered in round two.
When the Lions return from New Zealand after the Crusaders game they will enjoy a bye week before taking on the Waratahs at Ellis Park on May 11. Van Rooyen could still be the man in charge then, while it is rumoured that Springbok defence guru Jacques Nienaber could help out the Lions in this department in place of Mongalo.
The Lions have yet to say whether Mongalo is suspended or not. All they have said is they “respect the judicial processes of the Australian Government and the subsequent court ruling in the matter.”
They further stated “they consider the misconduct related to assault with the act of indecency particularly serious and a direct violation of the Lions Rugby Company and will follow the normal internal disciplinary processes regarding the matter.”
De Bruin, who said on Saturday he was receiving help for his condition, asked for privacy in this time. “My team is aware of what I am going through and they support me fully. This is a private matter, a medical condition, and I am receiving help with it.”
The Lions team to face the Crusaders is expected to be named today. It won’t feature Malcolm Marx, who has returned home to rest, according to the playing protocols and game time for nationally-contracted players.
The team will also have to do without Gianni Lombard (injury) and Courtnall Skosan (personal matter) this week. Hooker Jan-Henning Campher and flyhalf Shaun Reynolds have joined the squad in New Zealand as back-up.