JOHANNESBURG – While the Lions will go into this year’s Super Rugby competition a fairly settled side, coach Swys de Bruin will have to find a new lock combination following the departure of stalwart Franco Mostert and the unavailability of Lourens Erasmus.
Mostert, the 28-times capped Springbok lock, has joined former Lions coach Johan Ackermann at Gloucester in England, while the promising Erasmus will miss the entire Super Rugby campaign after breaking his ankle while playing for the Red Hurricanes in the Japanese league last October.
Erasmus was set to step up in the absence of Mostert this season, having played 45 Super Rugby games for the Lions, but De Bruin will now have to look elsewhere for someone to take over from Mostert. But finding a replacement for the hard-grafting Mostert won’t be easy.
The Boks lock’s work rate for the Lions was higher than any other’s in the team last year, with his high tackle count being among the best in the competition.
De Bruin confirmed new signing from the Sharks, Stephan Lewies, and Lions regulars Andries Ferreira, Rhyno Herbst, Marvin Orie and Ruan Vermaak will be his lock options this season.
A fit-again Ferreira and Orie, who became a Springbok in 2018, look set to be the go-to men for the Lions. Herbst though will push them hard for a look-in after his exploits in the Currie Cup, while Lewies will bring plenty of experience to the tight-five.
The good news for the Lions though is they will have several of their star players still available this year, among them Andries Coetzee, Courtnall Skosan, Lionel Mapoe, Elton Jantjies, Ross Cronje, Warren Whiteley, Malcolm Marx, and the breakthrough player of 2018, the exciting Aphiwe Dyantyi.
Those who have left since last year’s campaign include Ruan Dreyer, Rohan Janse van Rensburg and Jaco Kriel, who didn’t play Super Rugby last year because of injury.
Formerly injured players Cronje, Len Massyn, Cyle Brink , Johannes Jonker and Madosh Tambwe, who missed much of the action in the latter stages of last year, will also be fit again when Super Rugby gets underway next month.@jacq_west