Lions leaking stars; Cheetahs depleted


The Stormers will benefit the most from the Lions’ exit from Super Rugby in 2013, snapping up at least three players.


In other news the Free State Cheetahs have been dealt a big blow with the news that star flank Heinrich Brüssow will be out of action for a lengthy period.

The Springbok injured his shoulder in the Cheetahs’ 35-20 Currie Cup win over Griquas last Saturday, and according to Volksblad will be out for about six months.

Cheetahs coach Naka Drotské said his ace flank will soon undergo an operation which will leave him in a race against time to be fit for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Lions will announce the future plans of several of the Johannesburg-based union’s players in a special press conference on Wednesday morning, and according to the website, Lions acting CEO Ruben Moggee will announce the folllowing:

Tighthead Pat Cilliers – to sign with the Stormers (permanent)
Flank Michael Rhodes – to sign with the Stormers (permanent)
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies – to sign with the Stormers (loan agreement)
Centre Lionel Mapoe – to sign with the Bulls (loan agreement)
Lock Franco van der Merwe – to sign with the Sharks (loan agreement)
Centre Jaco Taute – to sign with either the Stormers or Sharks

On a more positive note, the Lions have signed Bulls flank Warwick Tecklenburg and Blue Bulls and former SA Under-20 lock Franco Mostert.


The Cheetahs take on the Sharks in Bloemfontein on Saturday and now have serious loose forward problems. Brüssow joins loosies Kabamba Floors (knee), Frans Viljoen (arm), Boom Prinsloo (shoulder) and Juan Smith (Achilles) on the sidelines.

Hendro Scholtz could also miss the Sharks game after receiving a hard knock to the head, while Philip van der Walt, Lappies Labuschagné and Davon Raubenheimer are the only available loose forwards. This could see Francois Uys, who was utilised mainly as a lock recently, shift to flank with the young Carl Wegner coming in at lock.

The Cheetahs are currently fourth on the six-team Currie Cup log with 17 points, two ahead of Griquas, while the Sharks are second on 25 points. The top four teams qualify for the semi-finals with the last-placed team playing promotion-relegation against the winner of the First Division.

Free State’s clash against the Sharks kicks off at 19:10 on Saturday.

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  1. Some good signings for the Stormers, but I really feel sorry for the Lions. They will take a long time to recover from this.

  2. Can’t see them ever recovering.
    If Kings end last in SS Rugby they will
    be given one more chance, then one more
    Will just not be PC to relegate them.

    SARU het ‘n moerse lat vir homself en vir
    SA rugby gepluk.

  3. Reply to FlapjackJoe @ 2:29 pm:

    Did the Kings ever play the Lions – and win?
    When last did EP – with all their so-called
    black talent – qualify for the CC? The stepping stone
    for players to the SuperShit league?
    Aah, but this is the BSA*, where merit and forward
    planning are two despicable Western concepts . . .

    *Banana Republic of South Africa.

  4. Now you’re making a different argument, but anyway.

    No, the Kings haven’t been performing great in recent years. Mainly because they have been losing players are soon as they do well at Craven Week level. The Kings had nothing to offer players, so the good ones jumped at the opportunity to join teams that could offer them a chance of playing Super Rugby.

    Their “so-called black talent”? Two of the last three non-white Springboks – Bjorn Basson and Lwazi Mvovo did in fact represent Border at the Craven Week, before the were pillaged by unions in the fortunate position to offer them more than the Kings could. The third recent non-white Springbok – Elton Jantjies – was also born in the Eastern Cape region. Siya Kolisi has also recently been included in Springbok training squads. Then you have the Ndunganes, Jongi Nokwe, Bandise Maku. “So-called black talent” from the Eastern Cape, playing for teams outside the Eastern Cape.

    If the Kings ever had the means of retaining players of that ilk beyond Craven Week level, then maybe they could’ve qualified for the Currie Cup, or beat the Lions, or whatever challenge you’ll next set them to prove to you that they’re worthy.

    Of all the players that played Super Rugby for South African franchises in 2012, only the Stormers produced more players than the Kings. Yet, they couldn’t offer players any pathway of achieving their goals, so they left.

    I agree the Kings didn’t get a Super Rugby spot ahead of the Lions on merit. But it would’ve been impossible to ever do that, since they would lose their Super Rugby quality players season-upon-season.

  5. Reply to FlapjackJoe @ 4:11 pm:

    Somehow teams like Griquas (CC) and
    Cheetahs (SS) retain enough players
    to survive.
    There are no favours in pro-sport – it’s
    an open market. A lot also depends on
    the style of management and how
    accountable they are for spending their
    SARU windfalls.

  6. Reply to Boertjie @ 5:21 pm: The way in which Cheetahs and Griquas retain players are by being able to offer them a pathway to Super Rugby. They’re affiliated to a Super Rugby team. EP, SWD and Border were not until now.

    Now, for the first time ever, the Kings have a window to attract players (or retain players) on an almost equal footing to the other teams. But their participation for next season only got confirmed in August, they didn’t have an opportunity to implement a long-term strategy. They were only offered one year in the competition, which isn’t exactly ideal for transformation.

    The same thing will happen to the Lions next season if they do win the play-off game. They will be able to start recruiting at a time after the European leagues have started and most local players are already locked in for the following season. Players looking for stability would avoid both the Kings and the Lions, which means the Cheetahs might actually be the winners in this whole mess; they would be the most attractive destination for players not quite good enough for the top three teams.

    Whereas the Lions and the Kings will get weaker in comparison with the other 4 teams.

  7. Reply to FlapjackJoe @ 4:11 pm:

    Yet EP want special dispensation to bring in more oversea’s non-RSA players… pull the other one mat

    Until the Lions are out of the big 5 in the Currie Cup rankings there is zero argument for another side (not even in the CC) to leap-frog anybody into a tournament realms ahead in terms of standard!

    There is ONE reason… and only one this insane situation is happening… it’s a typical South African political stunt packed with ‘comrade’ back-handers and the likes!

    Watson and co don’t even have the nouse nor intent on harnessing the depths of young talent in RSA from other regions with their latest statement…

    They could take a leaf out of ‘The Magician’ (as they call him) Jake White’s book at the Brumbies…

    I’d rather see the a Kings team laden with ‘local’ young talent get a 50 point smashing than a rag-tag team of mercenaries from all over the globe… but I’d rather see the Kings working themselves up the CC ladder first, let alone actually qualifying for the CC!

  8. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 2:07 am: Like I said before, there is simply no way in which the Kings could ever displace the Lions in the top 5 of the Currie Cup. They will continuously keep on losing their best players season-upon-season, while a team able to offer player an additional opportunity will keep stock-piling the best players. Saying that a team should only come into Super Rugby reckoning if they beat an existing team is effectively saying that the status quo should prevail forever.

    As for working their way up the Currie Cup ladder, the EP Kings topped the First Division log by 12 points, ahead of two teams that did play in the Premier Division last season. The last time they played the Griquas (in the 2011 Vodacom Cup, a competition where Griquas are traditionally very strong in), they beat them 26-16. They won the First Division two seasons ago and lost in a play-offs against the Pumas. Last season, there was no promotion. They’re not far off Currie Cup standard, considering they are unable to attract any players with Super Rugby ambitions.

    And sorry, no, there isn’t just ONE reason. Surely, it’s the duty of any governing body of any sport to do their best to develop the sport in all areas in their jurisdiction? As I said above, the Eastern Cape region produces the second highest amount of Super Rugby players to South African teams (behind the Stormers region). Yet, they have never been able to develop those players themselves, because they leave at the earliest opportunity.

    I wouldn’t mind seeing a Kings team laden with local young talent getting smashed by 50 points either … but given the opportunity to improve season-by-season. Yet, the one-year guarantee in Super Rugby and the relegation play-off at the end of the season means that developing local players is not an option.

  9. Reply to bryce_in_oz @ 2:07 am:

    Bryce, the difference is that the Kings only have one year to do it in, all the other teams have a secured spot and can therefore take their time bringing youngsters through. Why do you think the Kings are asking for a 3 year guarantee? So that they can bring their youngsters in the academy through.

    In the current situation the Kings are trying every avenue they can in order to ensure that they are competitive and are able to stay in the competition. What would you do different if you were in exactly the same situation as the Kings right now? With late notice etc.? Would you really be happy then to field a young, inexperienced team knowing that you would have close to zero chance to make it to the S15 the next year? Really?

  10. Many on this forum have said that Gauteng should only have one team and now they do. The fact that it came about without the need for a schizophrenic alliance between two rivals should be viewed as a fortunate opportunity.

    The result is a situation that is much better than what was before. All regions will be represented; All major centers have will have a team; The most fans will be able to identify themselves with a team and have an opportunity to watch live matches.

    Whether SARU bumbled their way into this or not, it’s is a good outcome, and if they are wise they will make it permanent.

    I’ll be rooting for the Kings next year.

  11. Reply to FlapjackJoe @ 4:11 pm:

    Ag nonsense man.

    That argument can be applied with far more equal alacrity to the Northern Cape Schools but even the most especially to schools in Mpumalanga, Midvaal, East Rand and the very most to Boland. If that were a criteria, then SURELY the Valke, Pumas and ESPECIALLY Boland should have been far more “entitled” to funding than the Eastern Cape. WP is overflowing with Boland based players. Northern Capers end up at Free State or WP. But the worst is good players from Mpumalanga’s excellent schools sides and those of the East Rand, all end up in Bulls and Lions sides. Players like Louis Ludik and Werner Kruger are excellent examples. This year the Beeld Trophy Final was between Kempton Park and Nelspruit. Based SOLELY on that the Valke and Pumas should then also deserve to be split off and become their own Super Rugby region.

    That contention lacks any substance whatsoever and should be rejected as having no singular merit related to the Eastern Cape.

  12. The “losing players” argument holds ZERO substance either.

    ALL the unions lose players ALL the time.

    As examples from the Lions

    Louis Ludik = Sharks
    Willem Alberts = Sharks
    Bryan Habana = WP
    Schalk Britz = Bath
    David Bulbring = Kings

    The teams worst affected are the Cheetahs and Griquas.

    Zane Kirchner and Bjorn Basson and Sarel Pretorius and Gaffie Du Toit are excellent examples.

    If that were a meritorious argument then ALL the unions should be entitled to SR participation.

  13. Reply to DavidS @ 4:03 pm: Very valid points you make there. If you re-read my post (and the post I replied to), I was actually trying to explain why the current Kings team would not be able to beat the current Lions team. And why the black talent from the region that everyone keeps on harping about are not actually there at the moment.

    Not once did I say or attempt to say that the Kings deserve Super Rugby because they produce players and/or lose their players.

    The Kings franchise extends to 3 of the 14 unions. The are more registered rugby players in the region than in all of New Zealand. It’s an main area of the country with a large black population playing rugby. There is a magnificent stadium in P.E. which has successfully hosted international events. There is now an academy set up to help with the development of players. It’s a rugby-mad region that has been starved of top-class rugby for decades. SARU (whose role is surely to develop rugby in all regions) have been neglecting development in the Eastern Cape. If Super Rugby income coming into the region is correctly and successfully invested back into the region, it would help massively with the development of the game, which can only be good as a whole for rugby in the country.

    Those are a few of the reasons why the Kings deserved to ask SARU to consider their entry into Super Rugby. A lot of work has been done off the field to set up the right infrastructure in the region to be able to host Super Rugby and massive credit should go to Cheeky Watson for that. I just think it’s unrealistic to expect a team to achieve on the field what a several posters wanted them to achieve.

    As a Kings fan, I would’ve been happy enough if we only got Super Rugby entry once the EP Kings have achieved promotion to the Currie Cup Premier Division. The team very nearly did in 2010, losing in the play-offs; last season, they were denied the opportunity when the Premier Division was reduced from 8 to 6 and promotion was scrapped. This season they’re now in the First Division final and in another promotion play-off.

    All I’m saying is that they’re not far away from being as good as they could possibly ever get if they could not offer players Super Rugby.