JOHANNESBURG – The Lions will go into this year’s Currie Cup competition - starting next week - and the 2020 Super Rugby campaign with a new-look squad following the recent departure of several senior campaigners.
The union have especially been hard hit in three key areas where they will have to find replacements very quickly: the midfield, the second-row and at hooker.
The Lions coaching team headed by Swys de Bruin will be somewhat concerned so much experience and talent has been lost in one go. Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster and loan centre from the Bulls, Franco Naude, have all left the Lions in the last few days. Add Rohan Janse van Rensburg, who went abroad last year, and Howard Mnisi, who left after last season, into the equation and you realise the three-time Super Rugby runners up are in deep trouble.
Rookie Wandisile Simelane is an obvious choice to step up at outside centre, having got some game-time this year, but he is young and inexperienced, while Manny Rass has also been talked about as a future Super Rugby player, too. If Elton Jantjies opts to stay at the Lions expect him to feature regularly at No 12 next year, with Gianni Lombard or Shaun Reynolds at 10.