Ahead of the resumption of domestic action this weekend, we look at where the Lions squad currently stand ahead of the domestic season.
After a full-scale exodus, the Lions’ rebuild is in full swing. And while the overhaul of their roster may not be as big and comprehensive as that of their Jukskei rivals, the Vodacom Bulls, the Lions have done some decent transfer business during the months when the country was under national lockdown dating back to March.
From the squad that started the 2020 season, the Lions had parted ways with star wing Tyrone Green (at English club Harlequins), influential but injury-prone loose forward Cyle Brink (with English side Leicester Tigers), flyhalf Shaun Reynolds (at French second-division outfit Nevers) and lock Ruan Vermaak (with Johan Ackermann’s NTT Docomo Red Hurricanes in Japan).
The exits of Green and Brink, in particular, could be seen as big losses for the Lions, and yet the biggest talking points from this ‘transfer window’ from the Joburg side’s point of view, were the capture of Rabz Maxwane and Burger Odendaal.
Maxwane left the Cheetahs under a cloud, while Odendaal’s public and highly-publicised Bulls exit threatened to turn ugly. The duo will be champing at the bit to start rebuild their careers at the Lions.
Apart from Odendaal, the Lions also jumped to secure the services of other discarded Bulls players. They’ve boosted their front-row stocks with prop Wiehahn Herbst, hooker Jaco Visagie and signed fullback Divan Rossouw, after the trio were rendered redundant at the Bulls.
Other new signings include Ruan Dreyer’s return to Ellis Park from Gloucester, rookie flyhalf Jaden Hendrikse from Maties and experienced centre EW Viljoen from the Leicester Tigers.
Lions squad (subject to change)
Props: Jannie du Plessis, Johannes Jonker, Nathan McBeth, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Carlü Sadie, Sti Sithole, Dylan Smith, Frans van Wyk, Ruan Dreyer, Wiehahn Herbst.
Hookers: Jan-Henning Campher, Pieter Jansen, Jaco Visagie, Marko Janse van Rensburg.
Locks: Marvin Orie, Rhyno Herbst, Reinhard Nothnagel, Ruben Schoeman, Wilhelm van der Sluys.
Loose forwards: Willem Alberts, Hacjivah Dayimani, Jaco Kriel, Marnus Schoeman, Roelof Smit, Vincent Tshituka, Len Massyn.
Scrumhalves: Ross Cronje, Dillon Smit, Morne van den Berg, Andre Warner.
Flyhalves: Elton Jantjies, James Mollentze, Tiaan Swanepoel, Jordan Hendrikse.
Centres: Dan Kriel, Duncan Matthews, Mannie Rass, Wandisile Simelane, Louritz van der Schyff, Burger Odendaal, EW Viljoen.
Wings: Courtnall Skosan, Jamba Ulengo, Stean Pienaar, Rabz Maxwane.
Fullbacks: Andries Coetzee, Gianni Lombard, Divan Rossouw.
Photo: Gallo Images