Lions to send out a new-look pride to face the Stormers
JOHANNESBURG – Less than 50% of the Lions players who were on duty against the Stormers in last year’s corresponding Super Rugby fixture at Ellis Park - in May - are likely to feature in this weekend’s round three match at the same venue. That’s how much the Lions team has changed in one season.
Lions full-back, Andries Coetzee, admitted this week he missed many of his former teammates.
“The big thing is you miss the guys who you’ve been on this journey with,” said the 29-year-old Coetzee, who made his Lions debut in 2012. He was a rookie when the Lions were relegated from Super Rugby in 2013 and he was part of all three finals campaigns in 2016, 2017 and 2018.
“It has been an adaptation (getting used to the new players),” he added, “but the coaches have made it a nice environment to work in where we have all gotten to know the new guys better. They’ve really created a good vibe and spirit, and everyone gets on.”
Among the more established Lions players who featured in last May’s match against the Stormers but who aren’t available anymore are:
Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Kwagga Smith, Stephan Lewies and Malcolm Marx, while Ross Cronje and Cyle Brink have been, or still are, on the injured list.
Ruan Combrinck, Nic Groom, Jacobie Adriaanse, Sylvian Mahuza and Warren Whiteley, among others, were involved in last February’s match at Newlands, but are now also no longer part of the playing group.
“Personally, we’re still a bunch of new guys, and I’m still getting used to it,” said Coetzee, who only returned to Joburg and Lions training two weeks ago after spending the last six months playing in Japan.
“I was so used to playing with a guy like Lionel Mapoe for example; we played together for eight years.”