Jannie du Plessis has bid his French club goodbye after four years and has joined the Lions on his return to South Africa. Photo: Chris Ricco/BackpagePix
Veteran Springbok prop Jannie du Plessis won’t only be a mentor to the young Lions tighthead props next season, but also look to make the No 3 jersey his own.

Du Plessis, 37, joined the Lions from Montpellier on Monday and will play for the Super Rugby franchise in next year’s competition.

“Jannie did some fitness testing today and he’s in great shape,” said Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen.

“He’ll certainly be a player the youngsters in our squad can learn from, but he’s made it clear he’s here to play.

“He’s very keen to play Super Rugby again and I’m expecting there to be good competition between the props in our squad.”

Du Plessis last played in South Africa four years ago, when he was still a Bok and Sharks regular.

He will be competing for the tighthead prop berth with the young and exciting Carlu Sadie (22), who has joined from the Stormers, and the other No 3s in the Lions squad, Frans van Wyk, Johannes Jonker, and rookies Keagan Glade (20) and Asenathi Ntlabakanye (20).

“Having quality tightheads in today’s game is massive,” said Van Rooyen, who has taken over from Swys de Bruin.

“In a guy like Jannie we’re getting a very experienced Test prop, who is fit and ready to play.

“But, we’ve also got exciting youngsters, like Carlu Sadie, Frans, Asenathi, Johannes and Keagan, who’ll push hard for their place in the team.”

The Lions meanwhile are hard at working preparing for the 2020 season and yesterday departed for a four-day camp in Secunda.

“We’ll focus mainly on rugby-related matters, having already worked on our conditioning and fitness,” said Van Rooyen.

“We’ll then continue with our pre-season programme at home next week until we break for the Christmas period on December 19.”

Van Rooyen said all the new players, which include Dan Kriel, Roelof Smit, James Mollenze, Andre Warner and others, had slotted in well so far.

“There are a few new guys and they’re all getting used to our style and the way we do things, but the majority of the players have been here, in the Super Rugby competition and Currie Cup... they know who we are and what we’re about.”

Van Rooyen said his management team would be finalised after the trip to Secunda.

He added that World Cup-winning flyhalf Elton Jantjies and regular captain Warren Whiteley, whose career is in the balance due to a knee injury, were working with the team this week.

@jacq_west


The Star

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