Lions unveil 2014 squad
The Lions management have named a versatile 33-man squad for the this year's Super Rugby competition.
The Johannesburg-based outfit's coaches have opted to combine both youth and experience. According to the Lions' official website, regular 2013 performers Julian Redelinghuys, Jacques van Rooyen and Ruan Dreyer have cemented their places as the front-rows in the squad. Corne Fourie joins the Lions on loan from the Pumas for the tournament, while Schalk van der Merwe has signed with the Golden Lions Rugby Union for the season from the Free State Cheetahs.
Seasoned Super Rugby campaigner Willie Wepener has booked his spot in the squad, with the talented Robbie Coetzee and Malcolm Marx also being selected at hooker. Marx will look to make the step up after coming through the Golden Lions ranks from U21 level in 2013.
Four locks have been selected, with Luvuyiso ‘MB’ Lusaseni primed for his Super Rugby debut. Springbok Franco van der Merwe will take charge at line-out time, with Martin Muller and Franco Mostert also putting their hands up for selection.
In the back row, regular Lions players Willie Britz, Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie and Warwick Tecklenburg will run out during the tournament. Captain Warren Whiteley will lead from the front at number eight.
Meanwhile, in the back-line, scrum-halves Michael Bondesio and Francois ‘Faf’ de Klerk have been selected. Bondesio will provide a healthy dose of experience, while De Klerk will be hungry to make his Super Rugby debut after joining the Lions on loan from the Pumas.
At fly-half, Marnitz Boshoff will take the reins. Elton Jantjies will also fill the number ten jersey as soon as he is fully recovered from his shoulder injury.
Coenie van Wyk, a Pumas loan player, joins the Lions ranks as a utility back. Additional utility backs included in the squad are Ruan Combrinck (full-back/wing) and new Lions signing Courtnall Skosan (wing/centre). JW Jonker also joins the Lions in 2014 and can fill several back-line positions.
In the midfield, Pumas high-flyer Stefan Watermeyer cracked the nod after consistent performances during the 2014 pre-season. Alwyn Hollenbach will also bring experience at inside centre. The experienced Lionel Mapoe returns to the Lions for the competition, following his loan stint at the Bulls during the 2013 tournament.
At wing, Deon Helberg and Deon van Rensburg have put their hands up for selection. High-flyer Anthony Volmink will also run out once he has recovered from injury.
Finally, at full-back, Namibian international Chrysander Botha has secured his spot in the final squad. Andries Coetzee will link up with the group after he has completed treatment for his recently sustained knee injury.
Lions Super Rugby Squad: Michael Bondesio, Marnitz Boshoff, Chrysander Botha, Willie Britz, Andries Coetzee, Robbie Coetzee, Ruan Combrinck, Francois de Klerk, Ruan Dreyer, Corne Fourie, Deon Helberg, Alwyn Hollenbach, Elton Jantjies, JW Jonker, Jaco Kriel, Luvuyiso Lusaseni, Lionel Mapoe, Malcolm Marx, Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Julian Redelinghuys, Courtnall Skosan, Warwick Tecklenburg, Franco van der Merwe, Schalk van der Merwe, Deon van Rensburg, Jacques van Rooyen, Coenie van Wyk, Anthony Volmink , Stefan Watermeyer, Willie Wepener, Warren Whiteley (c).