JOHANNESBURG – With Malcolm Marx on a sabbatical and playing his rugby in Japan this year the Lions No 2 jersey is up for grabs.
And the man who has his eyes fixed on the jumper is young Pieter Jansen. An ardent fan of Schalk Brits and John Smit, the 24-year-old has been in Marx’s shadow for the last two years but filled the hooker’s berth in the Currie Cup last year. He said yesterday, a week out from the start of the 2020 Super Rugby season, he was ready to make the step up.
“I couldn’t have asked for a better mentor,” said Jansen about Marx. “Malcolm has made such a big impact on world rugby so having him guide me over the last few seasons has been immense. It was phenomenal working alongside him and while his are big boots to fill, I’m hoping to make my own mark on Super Rugby this year.
“I’m looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. I want to get as much game-time as possible and grow with this young group we have here this year.”
Two other former Lions hookers who’ve moved on - Robbie Coetzee and Akker van der Merwe - also played their part in moulding Jansen. “Yes, of course, they are world class in their own right, and just look at the waves Akker is making overseas. They, too, played a big part in how I’ve developed here and I’m so thankful for that.”