JOHANNESBURG – The Lions are only two games into their Currie Cup campaign and already young fullback Tyrone Green is emerging as one of their heroes.
The 21-year-old played a big part in helping his side come back from a significant deficit to beat the Pumas 38-37 in round one, while last weekend in Cape Town against Western Province he scored a solo try from 60 metres out to guide his side to another come-from-behind win, this time a 30-28 victory.
Lions boss Cash van Rooyen said it was a pleasure to work with “the tough little guy with a big heart”.
“Tyrone’s always willing to learn and he wants to get better, so coaching him is a pleasure,” said Van Rooyen. “He’s got a good head on his young shoulders, and he’s quite a tough little man. But, he’s got a big heart.”
Lions skills coach Neil de Bruin called Green, a star for the SA U-21 team a year ago, “a real fighter”.
Green, who went to school at Jeppe with good friend Wandisile Simelane, already featured for the Lions in Super Rugby earlier this year, but his progression through the ranks at the Lions is something, Van Rooyen said, that had helped his development.
“He’s a good example of how a junior with real talent should be brought through the system. He played for the Lions U-19s, U-20s, he did his time in the SuperSport Challenge and he played for the national U-20 team. Then he got some time in Super Rugby to learn what it’s about and now he’s playing in the Currie Cup.”
De Bruin said Green, who’s only 1.87m tall and weighs 87kg, had the “fundamentals” to play in virtually any position in the backline. “Fullback is maybe his best position, because he’s got a bit more space there, but in time he may be better suited to 12 or 13 ... I’m going to sit on the fence right now.”
Meanwhile, Van Rooyen said this weekend’s Currie Cup match against the log-leading Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Friday would be a big test for his side. “Free State are playing well and at this stage they’re definitely the strongest side in the competition,” said Van Rooyen.
“You can see they’ve played together at a higher level (Pro 14) recently and had a good pre-season.”@jacq_west