Honeymoon is over for Lions

Last year the Southern Kings enjoyed a honeymoon year in the media where they were praised for their defence (based on tackles made) and their guts and commitment. The Lions can be sure that they will not receive similar treatment and they will be trashed for any failures and losses.

There will be no honeymoon for the Lions even though they are essentially starting with a brand new and inexperienced squad with only 12 players in their extended training squad having played more than 10 Super Rugby matches.

Players with 10+ Super Rugby games and who will form the backbone of the Lions team:

Andries Coetzee (13), Deon van Rensburg (40), Dylan Des Fountain (23), Lionel Mapoe (39), Alwyn Hollenbach (15), Elton Jantjies (39), Warren Whiteley (20), Derick Minnie (44), Martin Muller (14), Franco van der Merwe (89), Bees Rous (31), Willie Wepener (62)

Another 10 players have played less than 10 Super Rugby games.

Players with 1 to 9 Super Rugby games and key players to make the step up:

Anthony Volmink (4), Deon Helberg (1), Ruan Combrinck (7), Stefan Watermeyer (Pumas) (1), Ross Cronje (7), Michael Bondesio (7), Thabo Mamojele (1), Lambert Groenewald (1), Jaco Kriel (7), Ruan Dreyer (4)

This leaves the extended practice squad with 42 players who have not played Super Rugby before.

Rookies who showed they could be key during 2014:

Ruhan Nel, Chrysander Botha, Stokkies Hanekom, Marnitz Boshoff, Warwick Tecklenburg, Chris van Zyl, Ruan VEnter, Franco Mostert, Hugo Kloppers, Julian Redelinghuys, Robbie Coetzee

Irrespective of which players will be in the final Super Rugby squad, the rest will serve as injury back up and will need to make use of the opportunities they may get to play to establish themselves.

Make no mistake the Lions are in for a tough year, both on the field and off, and the media will be watching them with hawk eyes but the opportunity for individual players to not only cement their positions but to make names for themselves are great.

I believe we have a number of “unknowns”, currently “known” only to Lions supporters, who can be very influential in the the Lions’ performances this year and all one can do is to wish all the players year of great performances, both as individuals and as a team.
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