JOHANNESBURG - As the Lions enjoy a bye week to reflect on an up-and-down season, coach Swys de Bruin has admitted to having to deal with a number of “interesting” challenges over the course of 2018.
While they are still top of the Super Rugby SA conference log and are on course to host a “quarter-final” - something they did in both 2016 and 2017 when they reached the final - their fate is not in their hands. That alone is something they didn’t have to deal with in the last two years as they qualified comfortably as conference winners, but more pressing this season has been the regular announcements that someone among the senior player group will leave at the end of the Super Rugby competition and head abroad.
Also, De Bruin - who took over from Johan Ackermann - has had to work with a new-look management team that includes rookies like Joey Mongalo and Phillip Lemmer, while De Bruin himself has also had Springbok duties on his mind, having been roped in to serve as attack consultant.
“It’s definitely been a tougher year than in 2016 and 2017,” said De Bruin. “It’s been an interesting year, with lots of challenges ... like all the guys who’ve said they’re leaving.”
De Bruin was referring to the likes of Ruan Dreyer, Franco Mostert, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and possibly also Jacques van Rooyen and Andries Coetzee who may head to Europe. Jaco Kriel also announced a while ago he would join Ackermann at Gloucester, while the futures of Elton Jantjies and Lionel Mapoe are still up in the air.