Cronjé twins latest in a string of former Sharks players signing with Lions

2011-11-08 00:00

THE Sharks, who have been boosted by the Free State production line in recent years, are now rapidly becoming a rugby factory for the Golden Lions.

With the signing of the Cronjé twins, Ross and Guy, the Lions now have six recent former Sharks players in their squad. The 22-year-old Cronjé brothers have joined Patric Cilliers, Michael Rhodes, Warren Whiteley and Waylon Murray in Johannesburg.

And the Lions will now have an Ellis Park chapter of Michalhouse old boys with the Cronjé brothers, Cilliers and Rhodes all schooled at the Balgowan school.

Prop Cilliers and backrowers Rhodes and Whiteley, who replaced concussed captain Josh Strauss, played prominent roles in the Lions’ Currie Cup final win over the Sharks late last month. Murray, a powerful centre, started the season well before being sidelined by a serious knee injury.

Two other players schooled in KZN, centres Doppies la Grange (Port Natal) and Jannie Boshoff (Maritzburg College), are also under contract to the Lions.

Ross Cronjé also played in the Currie Cup final, coming off the bench to replace Sharks scrumhalf Conrad Hoffman in the final quarter.

While flyhalf Guy Cronjé, who has also been bothered by injury, has not been used by the Sharks this year, Ross Cronjé has been in and out of the Currie Cup squad following the injury to first-choice scrumhalf Charl McLeod.

The twins clearly feel they will gain greater exposure with the Lions and certainly Ross Cronjé could challenge Michael Bondesio for a place in the starting line-up.

The Lions have not only been shopping in Durban. They have also signed a second set of brothers in Whestley and Bradley Moolman. The 21-year-old Whestley impressed at scrumhalf this year for the Leopards while his brother, Bradley (20), played centre for the Blue Bulls’ U21 side.

Other Lions’ signings include a Maties pair — 21-year-old lock Stephan Greef and hooker Callie Visagie — while lock Hendrik Roodt is also in Johannesburg after spending the year with Griquas.

The Lions have added Australian U20 scrumhalf Eddie Bredenhann to their squad. Bredenhann was born in Witbank but emigrated to Australia.

The Lions have announced that former Bok and Sharks wing Henno Mentz’s contract has not been renewed. He has not played for the Lions since April 2010 when he turned out in the Vodacom Cup.

The Sharks have already contracted Griquas fullback Riaan Viljoen and Province centre Tim Whitehead, but they are certain to announce a couple of new signings in the weeks ahead.

It is thought that Ruan Pienaar, sidelined for four weeks with a hamstring strain, plans to return to Durban after ending his contract with Ulster, but he would be available only for the final weeks of Super Rugby in June.

The Sharks would probably also be looking for a top lock forward following Gerhard Mostert’s sudden decision to play club rugby in France at the end of this year’s Super Rugby competition.

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