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Lions: A lack of experienced depth

February 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

Looking at the potential Super Rugby squad it is not so much a case of not having talented players but the fact that the players in certain key positions are young and/or inexperienced at a higher level of rugby.

Potential squad:
(Players in brackets replacing currently injured players)

Hooker: Willie Wepener, Robbie Coetzee, (Malcolm Marx)
Prop: Bees Roux, Julian Redelinghuys, Schalk van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen
Lock: Franco van der Merwe, Martin Muller, Franco Mostert, Hugo Kloppers, Ruan Venter
Loose forward: Willie Britz, Jaco Kriel, Derick Minnie, Warwick Tecklenburg, Warren Whiteley, Lambert Groenewald
Scrumhalf: Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje, Faf de Klerk
Flyhalf: Marnitz Boshoff, Willie du Plessis, (Guy Cronje)
Centre: Alwyn Hollenbach, Stefan Watermeyer, JW Jonker, Stokkies Hanekom
Wing: Deon van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Deon Helberg, (Courtnal Skosan)
Fullback: Ruan Combrinck, Chrysander Botha, (Kobus de Kock)

Beseer: Francois du Toit, Ruan Dreyer, Chris van Zyl, Elton Jantjies, Dylan Des Fountain, Anthony Volmink, Andries Coetzee

There are a number of area of concern:

Props: Apart from Bees Roux the Lions props are either young and inexperienced or just plain inexperienced.
Locks: The Lions have experience in Franco van der Merwe and Martin Muller but their back-ups are inexperienced.
Scrumhalves: A serious lack of quality back-ups for Michael Bondesio, who has become more and more injury prone.
Centres: The first choice midfield of Hollenbach and Hanekom are injury prone and we will probably have to rely on Watermeyer and Jonker to see us through the season with the youngsters serving as further back-up.
Wings: While the Lions now have a number of real speedsters out wide their defence will be a worry.
Fullbacks: With Andries Coetzee out injured again only Ruan Combrinck really inspires any confidence at the back.

The only areas where the Lions seem to be well covered are in the loose forwards and at flyhalf with the first choice lock pairing solid enough as well.

I am not saying that the inexperienced players won’t be able to make the grade but 2014 will be a year when they will have to step up and use the opportunities they get to become household names.

My first choice match 23 with currently available players:

15 Ruan Combrinck, 14 Deon van Rensburg, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Stefan Watermeyer, 11 Lionel Mapoe, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Willie Britz, 6, Derick Minnie, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Martin Muller, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Willie Wepener, 1, Bees Roux

Replacements: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Jacques van Rooyen, 18 Schalk van der Merwe, 19 Franco Mostert, 20 Warwick Tecklenburg, 21 Faf de Klerk, 22 Willie du Plessis, 23 Chrysander Botha

What will your’s look like?

Originally published on Lions Pride

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Super Rugby Jerseys Online

January 17, 2014 in Uncategorized

sharksThe stock of Bulls and Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys are slowly becoming available after the festive season break and the initial rush and will be shipped as they become available. The Lions will launch ed their Super Rugby jersey on 22 January while the Cheetahs haven’t indicated when they will launch.

Sharks 2014 Super Rugby jerseys – R599

Bulls 2014 Super Rugby Jerseys – R649

Lions 2014 Super Rugby Jerseys – R649

Stormers 2014 Super Rugby Jerseys – R699

 New online rugby shops:

Bulls Stampede Rugby Shop

Sharks Shiver Rugby Shop

 

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Super Rugby 2014: Aussie Conference Preview

January 16, 2014 in Uncategorized

An interesting aspect of the Aussie conference is the number of South African players who will ply their trade down under this year with the bulk being in the Force’s squad. Most of these players were fringe players with only Wilhelm Steenkamp (Force) and Jacques Potgieter (Waratahs) being regulars in their previous teams.

The Aussie franchise all had heavy staff turnovers during the off season with the Force, the Rebels and the Waratahs the hardest hit by the loss of key players while the Brumbies and the Reds both lost their head coaches.

After losing only a few key players the Brumbies have a good chance of emulating their 2013 season and ending top of the Aussie conference and in a semi-final spot overall. Losing coach Jake White may have an effect but they retained his assistant coaches so the effect of Jake White’s defection should be minimal.

The Reds lost a few key players but the biggest loss is probably losing head coach Ewen McKenzie who took a young team from a regular bottom feeders prior to 2010 to contenders since 2010 and champions in 2011. 2014 could be a tough year coming to grips with a new coach and the Reds will hope that the Li’l Genius regained his form during the off season.

The Waratahs lost quite a few key players although a number of them are close to being over the hill. The ‘Tahs have been struggling in recent years and 2014 is going to be no different as the try to rebuild to former glory days when they were regular contenders.

The Force took a knock during the off-season as key players deserted and they recruited heavily from South Africa to restock their squad. Although the none of the South Africans were first choice players at their previous teams they may be enough to keep the Force off the bottom of both the Aussie and the Combined tables.

The sob story of the Aussie conference is that of the Rebels. Not only are they struggling financially but their core has been ripped apart as players left what seems to be a sinking ship. And they nowhere near replaced the quality they lost with their new recruits. I really don’t see them moving off the bottom off the log at any time during the competition

Brumbies:

Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 1
Overall: 2

Key losses: Jake White (head coach), Peter Kimlin, George Smith,
Key gaines: None

Internationals: 15 (14 Wallabies, 1 Japan)

Props: Ben Alexander, Ruaidhri Murphy, Scott Sio, Ruan Smith
Hookers: Joshua Mann-Rea, Stephen Moore, Siliva Siliva
Locks: Sam Carter, Scott Fardy, Leon Power, Jack Whetton
Loose Forwards: Fotu Auelua, Jarrad Butler, Ben Mowen, David Pocock, Jordan Smiler, Ita Vaea
Scrum-Halves: Conrad Hoffmann, Nic White
Fly-Halves: Lionel Cronjé, Harumichi Tatekawa, Matt Toomua
Centres: Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Lealiifano, Pat McCabe, Andrew Smith
Wings: Clyde Rathbone, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane
Fullbacks: Robbie Coleman, Jesse Mogg

Reds:

Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 2
Overall: 5

Key losses: Radike Samo, Digby Ioane, Ewen McKenzie (head coach)
Key gaines: Lachlan Turner

Internationals: 18 (18 Wallabies)

Props: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Greg Holmes, Jono Owen, James Slipper
Hookers: Saia Fainga’a, James Hanson
Locks: James Horwill, David McDuling, Ireland Ed O’Donoghue, Rob Simmons
Loose forwards: Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, Beau Robinson, Jake Schatz
Scrum-halves: Nick Frisby, Will Genia
Fly-halves: Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas
Centres: Anthony Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Ben Tapuai, Aidan Toua
Wings: Rod Davies, Dom Shipperley, Lachlan Turner
Fullbacks: Michael Harris, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi

Waratahs:

Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 3
Overall: 11

Key losses: Sitaleki Timani, Matt Lucas, Berrick Barnes, Tom Carter, Tom Kingston, Drew Mitchell, Lachlan Turner
Key gaines: Jacques Potgieter, Nick Phipps, Kurtley Beale

Internationals: 16 (15 Wallabies, 1 Springbok)

Props: Sekope Kepu, Benn Robinson, Paddy Ryan, Jeremy Tilse
Hookers: Tolu Latu, Tatafu Polota-Nau
Locks: Kane Douglas, Jed Holloway, Will Skelton
Loose Forwards: Mitchell Chapman, Dave Dennis, Tala Gray, Michael Hooper, Pat McCutcheon, Wycliff Palu, Jacques Potgieter
Scrum-halves: Brendan McKibbin, Nick Phipps
Fly-halves: Bernard Foley, Ben Volavola
Centres: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Michael Hodge, Rob Horne, Jono Lance
Wingers: Peter Betham, Matthew Carraro, Cam Crawford
Fullbacks: Kurtley Beale, Israel Folau

Force:

Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 4
Overall: 13

Key losses: Brett Sheehan, Winston Stanley, Alfi Mafi
Key gaines: Wilhelm Steenkamp, Ian Prior, Luke Morahan

Internationals: 6 (6 Wallabies)

Props: Pekahou Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Chris Heiberg, Kieran Longbottom, Salesi Manu
Hookers: Nathan Charles, Heath Tessmann
Locks: Phoenix Battye, Hugh McMeniman, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Sam Wykes
Loose Forwards: Chris Alcock, Angus Cottrell, Matt Hodgson, Ben McCalman, Brynard Stander
Scrum-Halves: Alby Mathewson, Ian Prior
Fly-Halves: Sias Ebersohn, Kyle Godwin, Zack Holmes
Centres: Marcel Brache, Jayden Hayward, Junior Rasolea, Ed Stubbs, Chris Tuatara-Morrison
Wingers: Nick Cummins
Fullbacks: Patrick Dellit, Dane Haylett-Petty, Luke Morahan

Rebels:

Predicted Positions:
Aussie Conference: 5
Overall: 15

Key losses: Ged Robinson, Jarrod Saffy, Gareth Delve, Nick Phipps, James O’Connor, Richard Kingi, Cooper Vuna, Kurtley Beale
Key gaines: Lopeti Timani, Tamati Ellison, Tom Kingston

Internationals: 6 (3 Wallabies, 1 Tonga, 1 Fiji, 1 Japan)

Props: Eddie Aholelei, Paul Alo-Emile, Max Lahiff, Toby Smith, Laurie Weeks
Hookers: Shota Horie, Tom Sexton
Locks: Luke Jones, Cadeyrn Neville, Hugh Pyle, Chris Thomson
Loose Forwards: Colby Fainga’a, Scott Fuglistaller, Scott Higginbotham, Jordy Reid, Lopeti Timani
Scrum-halves: Luke Burgess, Nic Stirzaker
Fly-halves: Bryce Hegarty, Angus Roberts
Centres: Tamati Ellison, Tom English, Mitch Inman, Lachlan Mitchell
Wingers: Tom Kingston, Telusa Veainu
Fullbacks: Alex Rokobaro, Jason Woodward

SA Conference Preview and Kiwi Conference Preview

SA Conference:
Sharks
Cheetahs
Stormers
Bulls
Lions

Kiwi Conference:

Chiefs
Crusaders
Hurricanes
Blues
Highlanders

Aussie Conference:

Brumbies
Reds
Waratahs
Force
Rebels

Overall:
1. Chiefs
2. Brumbies
3. Sharks
4. Crusaders
5. Reds
6. Cheetahs
7. Hurricanes
8. Stormers
9. Blues
10. Bulls
11. Waratahs
12. Lions
13. Force
14. Highlanders
15. Rebels

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Super Rugby 2014: Kiwi Conference Preview

January 14, 2014 in Uncategorized

Except for the Highlanders (6) and the Crusaders (19) the Kiwi franchises are fairly evenly populated with All Blacks and international players which makes it, on paper at least, an even contest for the top spot but past experience has shown this won’t be the case.

The contest for the Kiwi conference should be between the Chiefs and the Crusaders with the Highlanders propping up the log once again and the Blues and Hurricanes slogging it out for the minor placings.

After a disastrous 2013 for the Highlanders they lost a number of big name players while gaining very few in return leaving them with a massive rebuilding job and on course to prop up both the Kiwi conference and the overall log table.

The Blues gained a few players but none as influential as Ma’a Nonu. The Blue seem to have drawn the short straw for a player who has become an albatross around the neck of any franchise he plays for. The Blues started well in 2013 but quickly fell of the pace and 2014 is going to be another tough year for them.

The Hurricanes has developed into a fairly settled squad and will look to 2014 to make their mark. Their ability to score tries from anywhere is hampered by a brittle defence and if they can improve the balance of their game they can give the favourite sides a good go.

This bring us to the top two sides in the Kiwi conference.

The Crusaders will miss Dan Carter, who is on a sabbatical, as they don’t really have a real quality flyhalf to replace him and this may end up costing them the top spot. Otherwise they are loaded with 19 international players and there is really no excuse for them not to finish on top.

However, the Chiefs have shown that they have perfected the art of using a superior attack to overcome an average defence and one can expect them to build on their success of the last two years.

Chiefs:

Predicted Positions:
Kiwi Conference: 1
Overall: 1

Key losses: Brendon Leonard, Richard Kahui, Lelia Masaga
Key gains: Jamie MacKintosh, Kane Thompson, Robbie Fruean, Tom Marshall, Mils Muliaina

Internationals: 14 (12 All Blacks, 2 Samoa)

Props: Ben Afeaki, Josh Hohneck, Jamie Mackintosh, Pauliasi Manu, Ben Tameifuna, Nick Barrett
Hookers: Hikawera Elliot, Rhys Marshall, Mahonri Schwalger
Locks: Michael Fitzgerald, Brodie Retallick, Matt Symons
Loose Forwards: Sam Cane, Nick Crosswell, Ross Filipo, Tanerau Latimer, Liam Messam, Liam Squire, Kane Thompson, Carl Axtens, Tevita Koloamatangi1
Scrum-halves:Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Augustine Pulu, Brad Weber
Fly-halves: Gareth Anscombe, Aaron Cruden, Ihaia West
Centres: Bundee Aki, Robbie Fruean, Andrew Horrell, Charlie Ngatai, Anton Lienert-Brown
Wings: James Lowe, Tom Marshall, Tim Nanai-Williams, Asaeli Tikoirotuma
Fullbacks: Mils Muliaina, Robbie Robinson

Crusaders:

Predicted Positions:
Kiwi Conference: 2
Overall: 4

Key losses: Robbie Fruean, Tom Marshall
Key gains: Colin Slade

Internationals: 19 (18 All Blacks, 1 Fiji)

Props: Wyatt Crockett, Owen Franks, Nepo Laulala, Joe Moody, Tim Perry
Hookers: Corey Flynn, Ben Funnell, Codie Taylor
Locks: Dominic Bird, Luke Romano, Sam Whitelock
Loose Forwards: Richie McCaw, Kieran Read, Jordan Taufua, Matt Todd, Jimmy Tupou, George Whitelock, Luke Whitelock
Scrum-halves: Andrew Ellis, Mitchell Drummond, Willi Heinz
Fly-halves: Tyler Bleyendaal, Dan Carter, Colin Slade, Tom Taylor
Centres: Ryan Crotty, Rey Lee-Lo, Adam Whitelock
Wings: Zac Guildford, Johnny McNicholl, Nemani Nadolo
Fullbacks: Israel Dagg

Hurricanes:

Predicted Positions:
Kiwi Conference: 3
Overall: 7

Key losses: No major losses
Key gaines: No major gains

International: 14 (11 All Blacks, 3 Samoa)

Props: Ben Franks, Reggie Goodes, John Schwalger, Eric Sione, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
Hookers: Dane Coles, Ash Dixon, Motu Matu’u
Locks: Mark Abbott, James Broadhurst, Mark Reddish, Jeremy Thrush
Loose Forwards: Jack Lam, Faifili Levave, Ardie Savea, Brad Shields, Blade Thomson, Victor Vito
Scrum-halves: TJ Perenara, Chris Smylie
Fly-halves: Marty Banks, Beauden Barrett, James Marshall
Centres: Tim Bateman, Hadleigh Parkes, Cardiff Vaega, Conrad Smith
Wings: Cory Jane, Alapati Leiua, Matt Proctor, Julian Savea
Fullbacks: Andre Taylor

Blues:

Predicted Positions:
Kiwi Conference: 4
Overall: 9

Key losses: Ali Williams, Rene Ranger
Key gains: Tony Woodcock, Jerome Kaino, Ma’a Nonu, Benji Marshall

Internationals: 11 (11 All Blacks)

Props: Charlie Faumuina, Sam Prattley, Angus Ta’avao, Ofa Tu’ungafasi, Tony Woodcock
Hookers: Tom McCartney, Keven Mealamu, James Parsons
Locks: Tom Donnelly, Liaki Moli, Patrick Tuipulotu
Loose Forwards: Kane Barrett, Luke Braid, Jerome Kaino, Steve Luatua, Brendon O’Connor, Peter Saili
Scrum-halves: Jamison Gibson-Park, Bryn Hall, Piri Weepu
Fly-halves: Baden Kerr, Chris Noakes
Centres: Pita Ahki, Ma’a Nonu, Francis Saili, Jackson Willison
Wings: Frank Halai, George Moala, Lolagi Visinia
Fullbacks: Benji Marshall, Charles Piutau
Highlanders:

Predicted Positions:
Kiwi Conference: 5
Overall: 14

Key losses: Jamie Mackintosh, Tony Woodcock, Andrew Hore, Colin Slade, Tamati Ellison, Ma’a Nonu, Hosea Gear
Key gaines: Willie Ripia

Internationals: 6 (4 All Blacks, 1 Japan, 1 Argentina)

Props: Matías Díaz, Ma’afu Fia, Kane Hames, Chris King
Hookers: Liam Coltman, Brayden Mitchell
Locks: Josh Bekhuis, Tom Franklin, Jarrad Hoeata, Brad Thorn, Joe Wheeler
Loose Forwards: Shane Christie, Elliot Dixon, Gareth Evans, John Hardie, TJ Ioane, Nasi Manu
Scrum-halves: Aaron Smith, Fumiaki Tanaka, Frae Wilson
Fly-halves: Hayden Parker, Willie Ripia, Lima Sopoaga
Centres: Phil Burleigh, Jason Emery, Malakai Fekitoa, Winston Stanley, Shaun Treeby
Wings: Patrick Osborne, Buxton Popoali’i
Fullbacks: Kurt Baker, Ben Smith

SA Conference Preview

SA Conference:
Sharks
Cheetahs
Stormers
Bulls
Lions

Overall:
1. Chiefs
2.
3. Sharks
4. Crusaders
5.
6. Cheetahs
7. Hurricanes
8. Stormers
9. Blues
10. Bulls
11.
12. Lions
13.
14. Highlanders
15.

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Super Rugby 2014 SA Conference Preview

January 12, 2014 in Uncategorized

We’re into the final month of Super Rugby pre-season preparations and the team squads are slowly taking shape although no team has announced its final squad yet and the teams still have to play their warm up matches.

When one look at the provisional squad lists and taking what one know about the teams it is possible to do a provisional preview of the season. However, we know that pre-season previews tend to be fairly useless as injuries and form take a hand in during the season but it still is fun.

Sharks:

On paper the Sharks have the best squad, loaded with Springboks and experience and with only a few rookies looking likely to get much game time. The one position where the Sharks might be vulnerable is at lock where, apart from PSDT they don’t have any locks of real quality.

The internal battle for the flyhalf spot between Pat Lambie and Fred Zeilinga will be interesting to watch. Zeilinga was impressive during the Currie Cup while Lambie had a largely forgetable year last year.

Overall they have a solid and experienced forward pack but the depth at the back looks a bit brittle. However, they have enough talent available to finish top of the SA Conference in 2014.

Players to watch: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Frederik Zeilinga, Heimar Williams, SP Marais

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 1
Overall: 3

Prop: Tendai Mtawarira, Jannie du Plessis, Lourens Adriaanse, Dale Chadwick,
Hooker: Kyle Cooper, Bismarck du Plessis,
Lock: Pieter-Steph du Toit, Peet Marais, Etienne Oosthuizen, Edwin Hewitt, Anton Bressler
Loose forward: Willem Alberts, Marcell Coetzee, Jean Deysel, Ryan Kankowski, Jacques Botes, Keegan Daniel, Tera Mtembu
Scrumhalf: Charl McLeod, Cobus Reinach, Tyler Fisher,
Flyhalf: Pat Lambie, Frederik Zeilinga
Centre: Frans Steyn, Heimar Williams,
Utility back: Paul Jordaan, Tim Swiel, Jaco van Tonder, Adriaan Esterhuizen,
Wing: Lwazi Mvovo, Odwa Ndungane, JP Pietersen,
Fullback: SP Marais

Head coach: Jake White

Cheetahs:

After a good 2013 Super Rugby season but a poor Currie Cup for both partners, the Free State and Griquas, the Cheetahs will be able to field a settled and experienced squad of players. Once again their lock/loosies open play will be crucial to their campaign and to provide their potentially dangerous backs with quality ball.

In 2013 they played a much more balanced game than in the past and it will be interesting to see whether they can do it again this year. The presence of Robert Ebersohn in the midfield will be missed, both for his fetching and for his organisation of the backline defence.

The biggest issue for me as that their second choice players are distinctly inferior to their first choice players in most positions and they will hope that they have another year of limited injuries.

Players to watch: Lood de Jager, Shaun Venter, Johan Goosen, Howard Mnisi

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 2
Overall: 6

Prop: Coenie Oosthuizen, Trevor Nyakane, Caylib Oosthuizen, Rossouw de Klerk
Hooker: Adriaan Strauss, Hercú Liebenberg, Ryno Barnes
Lock: Lood de Jager, Waltie Vermeulen, Ligtoring Landman, Francois Uys
Loose Forwards: Heinrich Brüssow, Lappies Labuschagné, Boom Prinsloo, Philip van der Walt, Jean Cook
Scrumhalf: Sarel Pretorius, Shaun Venter, Kevin Luiters
Flyhalf: Johan Goosen, Elgar Watts, Francois Brummer
Centre: Johann Sadie, Francois Venter, Howard Mnisi,
Wing: Raymond Ruhle, Rayno Benjamin, Rocco Jansen, Cornal Hendricks
Fullback: Willie le Roux, Hennie Daniller, Riaan Smit

Head coach: Naka Drotske

Stormers:

The Stormers lost a few experienced players and gained very little. With Eben Etzebeth out for most of the season they look thin at lock and will depend on their two penalty machines, Rynhardt Elstadt and Michael Rhodes, to fill the gap while hoping they won’t get carded too often.

The Stormers’ forward strength is in the quality of their loose forwards.

At the back they are thin on quality scrumhalves and flyhalves, solid in the midfield while the lack of size on the wing could cost them on defence.

Unfortunately the Stormers will once again look to defend their way to the top and that’s not the way to win trophies. While Catrakilis is a quality flyhalf their biggest game breakers are out wide and unless Aplon and Kolbe get enough ball to play with they will merely be defensive liabilities.

I don’t see the Stormers having a better year than last year as overall the squad just looks unimpressive and they will probably fight it out with the Cheetahs for the #2 SA Conference spot.

Players to watch: Ruan Botha, Schalk Burger, Demetri Catrakilis, Cheslin Kolbe

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 3
Overall: 8

Prop: Pat Cilliers, Brok Harris, Oli Kebble, Steven Kitshoff, Frans Malherbe, Alistair Vermaak.
Hooker: Tiaan Liebenberg, Scarra Ntubeni
Hooker/flank: Deon Fourie
Lock: Ruan Botha, Manuel Carizza, Tazz Fuzani, Jean Kleyn, De Kock Steenkamp
Lock/flank: Rynhardt Elstadt, Michael Rhodes
Loose forward: Schalk Burger, Nizaam Carr, Siya Kolisi, Sikhumbuzo Notshe, Duane Vermeulen
Scrumhalf: Nic Groom, Godlen Masimla, Louis Schreuder
Flyhalf: Demetri Catrakilis, Kurt Coleman, Ryno Eksteen, Gary van Aswegen
Centre: Jean de Villiers, Juan de Jongh, Michael van der Spuy, Kobus van Wyk
Centre/Wing: Damian de Allende, Pat Howard
Fullback/Wing: Gio Aplon, Scott van Breda, Cheslin Kolbe
Fullback/Centre: Jaco Taute

Head coach: Allister Coetzee

Bulls:

Having lost a number of experienced players during 2013 the Bulls are a bit thin on experience and it’s only in the front row that they can field a set of experienced players, albeit mainly journeymen. Every other postion will feature rookies or near rookies and while their rookies were quality juniors they will have to make the step up to Super Rugby.

The biggest problem area for the Bulls is at flyhalf where they have no real quality with Louis Fouchè and Handrè Pollard as their first choice flyhalves and Tony Jantjies as a back up. The Bulls has some talented youngsters in the midfield and out wide but it remains to be seen whether their flyhalves can create enough opportunities for these players.

The Bulls have a tough year ahead of them and they will be hard-pressed not to finish bottom of the SA Conference. However, one can expect some of their youngsters to make the step up and this might just save them the embarrassment of finishing below the Lions.

Players to watch: Paul Willemse, Jacques du Plessis, Jan Serfontein, Clayton Blommetjies

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 4
Overall: 10

Props: Mornè Mellett, Dean Greyling, Frik Kirsten, Werner Kruger, Marcel van der Merwe
Hookers: Callie Visagie, Bandise Maku, Bongi Mbonambi
Locks: Flip van der Merwe, Paul Willemse, Grant Hattingh, David Bulbring
Loose Forwards: Deon Stegman, Wiaan Liebenberg, Arno Botha, Jacques Engelbrecht, Jacques du Plessis, Pierre Spies, Jono Ross
Scrumhalves: Francois Hougaard, Piet van Zyl, Rudy Paige
Flyhalves: Louis Fouchè, Handrè Pollard
Midfield: Jan Serfontein, Waylon Murray, JJ Engelbrecht, William Small-Smith
Outside backs: Bjorn Basson, Akona Ndungane, Sampie Mastriet, Travis Ismaiel, Jurgen Visser, Jesse Kriel, Clayton Blommetjies
Utility Backs: Ryan Nell, Ulrich Beyers

Head coach: Frans Ludeke

Lions:

Coming out of the rugby wilderness of 2013 with only 12 players having played more than 10 Super Rugby games the Lions are in for a tough campaign, a campaign where their rookies and near-rookies have to step up and they will hope that injuries don’t derail them again as it did in 2012.

The Lions play an exciting brand of rugby but it is a brand where they tend to leak tries at crucial times and a lot will depend on whether they can limit the damage and pull off the wins when they get the opportunity rather than close losses.

The Lions will be in a battle with the Bulls for the bottom SA Conference spot and it will depend on which team’s rookies step up the best. Overall the Bulls rookies have a better pedigree and I expect the Bulls the pip the Lions to the post.

Players to watch: Ruan Dreyer, Franco Mostert, Jaco Kriel, Stokkies Hanekom

Predicted Positions:
SA Conference: 5
Overall: 12

Prop: Ruan Dreyer, Julian Redelinghuys, Bees Roux, Schalk van der Merwe, Jacques van Rooyen
Hooker: Willie Wepener, Robbie Coetzee, Francois van Wyk, Malcolm Marx
Lock: Franco van der Merwe, Franco Mostert, Chris van Zyl, Hugo Kloppers, Ruan Venter, Martin Muller
Loose Forwards: Derick Minnie, Jaco Kriel, Willie Britz, Warren Whiteley, Warwick Tecklenburg, Lambert Groenewald
Scrumhalf: Michael Bondesio, Ross Cronje, Guy Cronje, Faf de Klerk
Flyhalf: Elton Jantjies, Marnitz Boshoff, Willie du Plessis
Centre: Alwyn Hollenbach, Stokkies Hanekom, Dylan Des Fountain, Robert de Bruyn, Lionel Mapoe
Wing: Anthony Volmink, Deon Helberg, Deon van Rensburg, Chrysander Botha,
Fullback: Andries Coetzee, Ruan Combrink

Head coach: Johan Ackermann

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Lions Super Rugby 2014: Time to bury the hatchet?

October 21, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Lions Challenge is finished and for the Lions the Currie Cup is over. They are taking a welcome break until mid November when the Super Rugby pre-season training starts and coach Johan Ackermann has made it clear – there will be no big signings, no “star” players joining, before the Super Rugby competition starts in February next year.

In 2012 the Lions franchise partners, for reasons of their own, joined the crowd to vote the Lions out of Super Rugby. Well, the Lions are back! But the fact is, considering the players they’ve lost, they are back where they were at the start of 2011 with a squad made up of a few old loyal black manes and bunch of inexperienced young males looking to start with a new pride.

Lions squad for 2014 as it currently stands

It is time for the Lions to bury the hatchet and look at the personnel their franchise partners have who can add value to the squad.

At the Pumas you can start at the top cat, Jimmy Stonehouse. This man has kept the Pumas competitive after they got dumped out of the Currie Cup Premier Division and have managed to retain a squad of good journeyman players. Pulling him into the Lions Super Rugby coaching set up is a no-brainer.

I don’t claim to have followed the Pumas and Leopards players through their competitions but having performed well in the First Division their surely must be a few players who could make the step up.

The Pumas, I believe, have a number of players who could add value to the Lions playing squad, players like Coenie van Wyk, Faf de Klerk, Stefan Watermeyer, Rosco Specman, Corne Steenkamp and Renaldo Bothma. And at the Leopards you have players like BG Uys, Morne Hanekom and Luther Obi.

But now for the biggest hatchet to be buried, the one aimed at Cheeky Watson’s head. Isn’t it time for the Lions and the Kings to look to work together at strengthening both franchises. Let’s face it, SARU has screwed it up royally, maybe it’s time the franchises look to help each other grow rather than cut each others’ throats.

The Kings still have a few of their Super Rugby players left, players with experience who can add value not only to the Lions but also to a future Kings squad. Currently on the books at the Kings are players like Michael Killian, George Whitehead, Ronnie Cooke, Sergeal Petersen, Steven Sykes, Darron Nell and Devin Oosthuizen.

Beggars can’t be choosers, Ackers!

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by Baylion

Pumas, 1st Division Champions

October 12, 2013 in Uncategorized

Congratulations to the Pumas for winning the Currie Cup 1st Division. Their comprehensive victory over the EP Kings sets them up well for the promotion / relegation matches against Griquas over the next two weeks.

The Lions franchise partners closed off an unbeaten Currie Cup campaign with success and hopefully the Lions coach, Johan Ackermann, has developed a closer relationship with Pumas coach, Jimmy Stonehouse, ahead of next year’s Super Rugby. Not only should Stonehouse be pulled into the Lions Super Rugby coaching staff but a number of Pumas players can help the Lions build depth in their squad.

I always like Renaldo Bothma’s game when he played for the Lions and it would be great to see him back at the Lions. Scrumhalf Faf de Klerk, winger Rocko Speckman, fullback/flyhalf Coenie van Wyk and centre Stefan Watermeyer could all be valuable additions to the Lions Super Rugby squad.

Talking of centres, I wouldn’t mind the Lions recruiting Griquas centre, Howard Mnisi.

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by Baylion

Western Force: SA’s 7th franchise

October 10, 2013 in Uncategorized

The Western Force’s South African contingent is growing with the latest recruit being Bradley Moolman, albeit only to the Western Force Academy.

Bradley Moolman (22), a 2011 u/20 Bok, played Craven Week for the Lions before playing his junior rugby for the Blue Bulls and returning to the Lions in 2012. He has yet to establish himself at senior level having played a number of Vodacom Cup games for the Blue Bulls and the Golden Lions.

Prop Chris Heiberg, centre Marcel Brache (both WP/Stormers), lock Wilhelm Steenkamp (Bulls), scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens (Valke) and now Moolman (Golden Lions) are joining Sias Ebersohn and the South African born Chris Alcock for the 2014 season. Chris Alcock’s parents moved to Australia when he was 10 while Ryan Louwrens moved to Perth in 2011.

This brings the South African contingent at the Force to seven.

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by Baylion

Super Rugby 2014 draw released

October 7, 2013 in Uncategorized

SANZAR released the Super Rugby draw for 2914. The South African teams start the competition a week before the Aussies and the Kiwis due to and extra test against Scotland during the June test window. The Cheetahs will face the Lions in Bloemfontein in the first match and the Sharks will play the Bulls in Durban while the Stormers start with a bye.

The full Super Rugby draw is at http://www.sanzarrugby.com/linkservid/A2B922E2-FD6E-9D6B-1564B0B52A96D034/showMeta/0/

2014 Schedule at a glance (Click to enlarge)

Super Rugby 2014 schedule

Super Rugby 2014 schedule

The Lions schedule for 2014:

See also: Lions in Super Rugby 2014

The Lions tour down under is only in May and they will not be facing the Brumbies and the Hurricanes next year.

Saturday 15 February Cheetahs v Lions Free State Stadium, Bloemfontein 17:05
Saturday 22 February Lions v Stormers Ellis Park, Johannesburg 19:10
Saturday 1 March Bulls v Lions Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria 17:05
Saturday 8 March Sharks v Lions Growthpoint Kings Park, Durban 19:10
Saturday 15 March Lions v Blues Ellis Park, Johannesburg 15:00
Saturday 22 March Lions v Reds Ellis Park, Johannesburg 17:05
28/29 March Bye
Saturday 5 April Lions v Crusaders Ellis Park, Johannesburg 17:05
Saturday 12 April Lions v Sharks Ellis Park, Johannesburg 19:10
Saturday 19 April Stormers v Lions DHL Newlands, Cape Town 17:05
25/26 Apr Bye
Saturday 3 May Chiefs v Lions Waikato Stadium, Hamilton 9:35
Saturday 10 May Highlanders v Lions Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin 9:35
Sunday 18 May Waratahs v Lions Allianz Stadium, Sydney 8:05
Saturday 24 May Force v Lions NIB Stadium, Perth 11:40
Saturday 31 May Lions v Bulls Ellis Park, Johannesburg 17:05
June Test Window
Friday 4 July Lions v Rebels Ellis Park, Johannesburg 19:10
Saturday 12 July Lions v Cheetahs Ellis Park, Johannesburg 17:05

Super Rugby Qualifiers
Friday 18 July
Saturday 19 July

Super Rugby Semi Finals
Friday 25 July
Saturday 26 July

Super Rugby Final
Saturday 2 August

Not playing the Brumbies and the Hurricanes

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Lions supporters need to kit up again

October 1, 2013 in Uncategorized

MTN Lions 2014 Super Rugby replica and supporters merchandiseThe Lions were out of Super Rugby for a year and with Canterbury taking over from Gilbert midway through the Lions Challenge Lions fans got the short end of the stick when it came to Lions supporters jerseys and other fan merchandise.

The 2014 Lions Super Rugby have been launched and is available from Lions Pride Rugby Shop

Now in stock!

Golden Lions 2013 Currie Cup Replica Jersey – White (Men’s only)