Leon Lyons is part of a group of ‘buzzing’ DHL Western Province front rankers eager to power their way into contention for higher honours by starring in the Currie Cup.
Schooled at Selborne College in Eastern Cape, Lyons joined WP straight out of school and represented the Junior Springboks in 2018, alongside provincial teammates Sazi Sandi, Salmaan Moerat, Ben-Jason Dixon and Damian Willemse.
The burly 24-year-old is relishing the opportunity to pull on the famous blue-and-white hoops in the Currie Cup derby against the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld.
“I am definitely itching for this weekend,” Lyons says. “I know there are a lot of guys who haven’t got much game time this year, so the Currie Cup is wonderful for us to spread our wings a bit and just get stuck in and prove what we are capable of.
“I am very excited for this weekend and this campaign. Dobbo has emphasised how much of a privilege it is to be playing for Western Province. Everyone is just buzzing.”
Lyons was just 22 when he was backed to make his DHL Stormers debut in the Super Rugby Unlocked clash against the Pumas in 2020.
Stepping into the big shoes of Steven Kitshoff, who was ruled out of that match due to lockdown protocols, Lyons led the way in a dominant scrumming performance as the DHL Stormers claimed a thrilling victory in Nelspruit.
Lyons has featured just once for the Stormers this season, but hopes through the Currie Cup he can prove he should be considered as a contender for the No 1 jersey made famous by Kitshoff.
“I hope I get to feature more in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship. I haven’t been playing much lately, but I am really hoping that in this Currie Cup, I can prove that I am worth playing more in the Vodacom URC and starting.
“With Steven Kitshoff leaving, I know there is a big opportunity for some of the young props to fill his shoes. They are big shoes to fill, but it is a great opportunity to be able to step into that position and take control, be part of this team.
“This team means the world to me and I really want to be a part of it. With this Currie Cup, it’s an opportunity to take it by the horns and show them what we are made of.”
Mentored by grizzled scrummagers at the team’s High Performance Centre in Bellville, Lyons is learning his trade at one of the game’s best scrum schools.
“There’s a massive scrumming environment at the HPC,” he says. “I would say our scrumming sessions are tougher than all the games that I have played.
“Every Tuesday we come and the guys are fired up to prove a point. The youngsters are trying to tackle the big guys, and the big guys are trying to absolutely destroy the youngsters. When we get on that pitch on Tuesday, the guys go all out for that scrum session. It’s a battle of the big boys.”
Western Province got their 2023 Currie Cup campaign off to a bright start against the Lions in Johannesburg and return to altitude to face the Vodacom Bulls in Pretoria on Friday.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game,” Lyons says. “We are not taking the Vodacom Bulls for granted. We know what the Bulls can do and we know how good they are at Loftus. They are going to be fired up and will be coming for us.
“We are ready for that and know that we need to step our game up to beat them there. We suspect they will be playing some of their Vodacom URC players, so we have to raise the bar and bring out a much better performance than we did against the Lions. Especially looking at that second half, we have to be much more clinical and gelled together.”
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