PHOTO: Rohan Janse van Rensburg will not play in the Lions’ next match against the Jaguares in SArgentina. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – Four-try Lions hero Rohan Janse van Rensburg will be given next week off to honour his mother, who passed away from cancer earlier this week.
The Lions midfielder put his grief aside on Saturday to score two tries as his team powered their way past the Waratahs for their second win of the new Super Rugby season. Janse van Rensburg also scored a brace in the opening game of the competition against the Cheetahs last weekend.
He will, however, not travel with his teammates to Buenos Aires on Tuesday for the Lions’ next match, against the Jaguares, on Saturday.
“Rohan has got the X-factor and he’s started the season brilliantly, but he will definitely not travel with us,” said coach Johan Ackermann.
“We are humbled by what he has gone through in the last week and how he has conducted himself, but this is his time to honour his mother, with the funeral being on Wednesday.
“On top of that he has a hip flexor injury and needs to look after that ahead of our next home game. We’ll trust our squad to get the job done in Argentina.”
Janse van Rensburg said there was never any doubt in his mind about playing against the Tahs at Ellis Park on Saturday – a match the home team won 55-36 after scoring eight tries.
“When I heard my mom was not with us anymore I had a choice – to go and lie in a hole and not play, or I could stand up and be a better man,” he said.
“My mom would have wanted it… she told me two weeks ago that if something happened to her, I must never ever give up my life because of her.
“She said I must keep working, keep training and keep playing. God blessed me today with two tries to honour her in that way.
“It’s still a sad day… but it was heart-warming to know my mom was next to me on the field today. It made my heart full of joy, to score those tries for her. I know my mom is proud of me,” he said with tears in his eyes after his team’s win on Saturday night.
Ackermann, meanwhile, will take his strongest possible squad to Argentina, unlike last season when he gambled with a weakened side for their last round-robin game and lost to the Jaguares, which ultimately cost them top spot on the log – and potentially the title – as they were forced to travel to Wellington to face the Hurricanes in the final.
“We thought about who must travel, but the reality is it is still so early in the season and we haven’t built any momentum yet,” he explained.
“Warren (Whiteley) here will be the first to tell you he needs game time, and he’s not the only one. Only Rohan will stay behind and then anyone else who might be in doubt, but otherwise it’ll be a first-choice squad.”
The Lions team is expected to be named on Tuesday, before the team flies out.