Wandisile Simelane in action for the Lions at Emirates Airline Park, Johannesburg on 13 July 2019. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

JOHANNESBURG – Stand-in Golden Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen has used this year’s Currie Cup campaign to test the union’s depth ahead of next year’s Super Rugby competition. Some men already had a taste of it earlier this year, while others will be hoping to get a proper crack next season. 

The Lions have plenty of holes to fill following the departure of several seasoned players earlier this year.

Below we look at five players who have impressed in the Currie Cup and warrant a chance to show what they can do in Super Rugby next year.

Tyrone Green: 

The former Wits Varsity Cup star is one of those players who were “tested” in Super Rugby earlier this year and then, like now in the Currie Cup, he showed he is ready to make the big step up on a permanent basis. Springbok fullback Andries Coetzee will be back for Super Rugby next year, which may force the Lions to unleash Green elsewhere in the backs, maybe at centre or wing.

Coetzee could also be shifted to centre or wing, or even play as the back-up to flyhalf Elton Jantjies, with Green wearing the No 15. Either way, Green will feature somewhere for the Lions next season.

Tyrone Green celebrates a try during 2019 Currie Cup match between Lions and Sharks at Ellis Park Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Tyrone Green celebrates a try during 2019 Currie Cup match between Lions and Sharks at Ellis Park Stadium. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

Wandisile Simelane: 

Simelane also played some Super Rugby earlier this year, but he found it hard to break into a congested midfield, with Lionel Mapoe and Harold Vorster the first-choice men.

Simelane though has shown in the last few weeks and especially last weekend against the Sharks he, too, is ready to make his mark at a higher level. The Lions are thin at centre going into next year and it’s now his turn to shine at Super Rugby level.

Stean Pienaar: 

The Lions have not been short in the wing department in the last few years with Ruan Combrinck, Courtnall Skosan and Aphiwe Dyantyi all becoming Boks, while Madosh Tambwe - still also a rookie at 22 - has also made his mark. But in Pienaar the Lions appear to have found another strong wing who could push for a place in the Super Rugby team next year.

The 22-year-old who hails from Pretoria has been one of the Lions’ better performing players in the Currie Cup; his strength with ball in hand and his good finishing ability are sure to get him a few ticks behind his name.

Ruben Schoeman: 

It wasn’t that long ago that the Lions boasted a very formidable lock pairing in Andries Ferreira and Franco Mostert, but they don’t play for the Johannesburg-based team anymore. Marvin Orie has come in from the Bulls and become a Bok, while a number of rookie locks have been tried recently - Rhyno Herbst, Reinhard Nothnagel and Ruan Vermaak. Enter Schoeman, and the Lions may just have found their next big thing.

The 23-year-old has joined from the Eagles and already made a bit of a name for himself with his strong performances so far and he’ll hope to get into the Super Rugby frame next year.

Ruben Schoeman in action during the Currie Cup Rugby match against the Pumas at Emirates Airline Park. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix
Ruben Schoeman in action during the Currie Cup Rugby match against the Pumas at Emirates Airline Park. Photo: Christiaan Kotze/BackpagePix

Pieter Jansen: 

Hooker all of a sudden became a problem area for the Lions when it was announced after Super Rugby this year that Malcolm Marx would play in Japan next season, and Robbie Coetzee was leaving the union. And, let’s not forget Akker van der Merwe left two years ago and Corne Fourie headed to the Cape.

There is now a great opportunity for Jansen to make the No 2 jersey his own - something he has already done in the Currie Cup with some good performances so far.

Fellow rookie Jan-Henning Campher is also pushing hard for a starting berth, and how the Lions will hope these two men stand tall in the coming months.

@jacq_west

 

The Star

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