The Xerox Golden Lions will be without influential prop forward Sthi Sithole for their crunch Currie Cup final against Toyota Cheetahs at the Toyota Stadium in Bloemfontein on Saturday.

The 26-year-old product of The Westville Boys Academy tore his calf muscle during Thursday afternoon’s training session and will be replaced by Dylan Smith in the starting 15 with Nathan McBeth covering on the bench.

Lions coach Ivan van Rooyan says they will miss Sithole’s services.

The Lions have not had good starts in their games this season and, much like the Cheetahs, have had to come back strong late in their matches to get the results.

Van Rooyan, who last week watched the Cheetahs come back from the brink of defeat in the last 20 minutes against the Sharks last weekend, says they know they need a 80 minute performance.

Van Rooyan, who has been working as the Lions fitness and conditioning coach for six years before taking over the coaching reigns in the 2018 Currie Cup season, believes that there are a number of factors that make the difference in the last 20 minutes.

– Report by Thando Gqamane