JOHANNESBURG – The 2019 edition of the Currie Cup kicks off in 16 days’ time and the Lions still aren’t sure about the makeup of their coaching team or which players will run out for them over the course of the competition.
The 11-time champions were supposed to reveal their coaching team and squad list for the Currie Cup today, but postponed the press conference yesterday, saying they were not yet in a position to make any announcements.
In a brief statement the Lions said they were “still very busy finalising the Currie Cup management, squad and player movement”.
The Lions are likely to be without Malcolm Marx, Marvin Orie, Kwagga Smith, Elton Jantjies and Aphiwe Dyantyi for most of - or all of - the campaign as they all look set to feature for the Springboks in the coming weeks and months.
All five men are currently involved in a Bok planning and assessment camp in Pretoria, and are expected to also be there next week when the Bulls and Sharks players join, ahead of the Test season.
Also, Lions Super Rugby head coach Swys de Bruin - who one would think would be involved in negotiations around player availability and “movement” at Ellis Park - is the Boks’ attack coach and is also in camp in Pretoria.
In De Bruin’s absence, as was the case last year, regular team conditioning coach Ivan van Rooyen is likely to fill the role of Currie Cup head coach.
But, who his assistants will be is anyone’s guess. Phillip Lemmer will probably continue as forwards coach, Julian Redelinghuys is expected to remain in charge of the scrums, and Neil de Bruin could take care of the backs.
There will be some questions around defence coach Joey Mongalo though, as he is embroiled in a legal matter in Australia, following his conviction of indecent assault, from an incident in Sydney last year when the Super Rugby Lions were on tour.
Several players meanwhile are still in discussions with Lions management about their contracts and here one thinks of Jantjies, who’s yet to decide on where he will play his rugby next year.
There is also believed to be uncertainty around the continued involvement of men like Nic Groom, Ruan Combrinck, Sylvian Mahuza, Lionel Mapoe, Dillon Smit and Lourens Erasmus.
Also, recent loan player from the Stormers, tighthead prop Carlu Sadie’s future is unknown.
Will he return to the Cape or stay in Joburg and become a permanent Lions man?
Meanwhile, lock Stephan Lewies, who played in the red and white during Super Rugby, has already left to further his career in England at Harlequins.
A new-look Lions team will open their Currie Cup campaign with a game against the Pumas at Ellis Park on Saturday, July 13.@jacq_west