Patrick McKendry is a rugby writer for the Herald.

Rugby: Blues' Bekhuis battling calf injury

Josh Bekhuis has been ever-present for the Blues this season. Photo / Getty
Josh Bekhuis has been ever-present for the Blues this season. Photo / Getty

Josh Bekhuis is one of only three players to have started every match for the Blues this season but is battling a calf injury ahead of his team's next assignment against the Lions in Johannesburg.

The lock, a key component of a lineout which is performing well this season after a few glitches last year, has been keeping room-mate, prop Sam Prattley, awake at nights with his icing activities.

Coach Tana Umaga will be hoping the 30-year-old, in his last season at the franchise before he moves to Lyon, recovers in time.

The Blues play the Lions at Johannesburg's foreboding Ellis Park on Sunday morning (NZT) buoyed by their 34-18 victory over the Kings in Port Elizabeth last weekend, their first away win in two years, but know a loss would quickly undo most of the good work.

Bekhuis has played a big role in the Blues pack this season with Patrick Tuipulotu in and out of form, and the Southlander has been showing plenty of application in attempting to get himself right for his 10th start in a row.

Wing Tevita Li and loose forward Steven Luatua are the others to have started every match.

"The ice machine has been keeping me up at night," Prattley said. "In terms of being a team man, he has been huge. I think last weekend was the first time he's actually come off and not played a full game this season. What he brings to the team is pretty outstanding in terms of his lineout work and his work around the field. He's working hard to get the calf right so hopefully he'll be okay for the weekend."

The Blues are preparing for a big physical challenge from the Lions who are coming off a bye last weekend, and before that suffered a big loss at home to the Hurricanes.

It would have been a disappointing result for them given they beat the Chiefs in Hamilton earlier in the competition.

Prattley - in excellent form last week during the victory over the Kings - is expecting the home side to come hard at the Blues with the ball in hand.

"They've got big ball runners, particularly their No8, so guys like that we just have to put down early and stop them getting momentum," he said. "They're a big offloading team as well so if we can shut them down that's half their game gone."

- NZ Herald

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