The Lions management have named a versatile 33-man squad for the 2014 Vodacom Super Rugby competition, with the coaches opting to combine both youth and experience.
At prop, regular 2013 performers Julian Redelinghuys, Jacques van Rooyen and Ruan Dreyer have cemented their places 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 Robbie Coetzee and Malcolm Marx joining him. 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 lineout time, with Martin Muller and Franco Mostert also putting their hands up for selection.
In the loose forward positions, 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 in the eighthman berth.
Meanwhile, in the backline, scrumhalves 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 flyhalf, 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, provides cover at ten and fifteen as a utility back.
Additional utility backs included in the squad are Ruan Combrinck (fullback/wing) and new Lions signing Courtnall Skosan (wing/centre).
In the midfield, Pumas high-flyer Stefan Watermeyer cracked the nod after his emphatic hat-trick performance against the NWU-Pukke/Leopards in the first warm-up game of the season. Alwyn Hollenbach will also bring experience at inside centre.
JW Jonker joins the Lions ranks in 2014 and will be used mostly at outside 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 fullback, 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.
2014 Lions Squad:
Francois de Klerk
Franco van der Merwe
Schalk van der Merwe
Deon van Rensburg
Jacques van Rooyen
Coenie van Wyk
Warren Whiteley (c)