The Lions are gutted again – The Citizen
The Lions find themselves once again stripped of their best players, putting them in a very difficult position ahead of their second season in the United Rugby Championship (URC).
The Joburg-based side have not even completed their debut campaign and lost captain Burger Odendaal to Wasps, while star flank Vincent Tshituka revealed this week he had signed for the Sharks, sending waves of shock across the union.
Major players center Wandisile Simelane and prop Carlu Sadie have also been linked with the Bulls and Sharks respectively, leaving the team on the brink of a player crisis.
The Lions are no strangers to a player exodus, which they suffered after their glorious Super Rugby run where they reached three consecutive finals from 2016 to 2018.
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Following this third final defeat, against the Crusaders, the Lions lost no less than 30 players, including Springbok stars Malcolm Marx, Franco Mostert, Kwagga Smith, Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies among a host of others, while inspirational captain Warren Whiteley has retired due to injury.
The Lions again had to start rebuilding from scratch and at the start of their first season in the URC they had built a solid squad which had a decent season.
At one point they found themselves with just two wins from seven games but improved that figure to seven wins from 17 and if they win their last pool game it can be considered a good season for a team that sorely lacking in depth.
At the start of the competition, the Lions’ most experienced senior players included Odendaal, one of the few quality signings the team had made in recent years, as well as Jaco Kriel and Ruan Dreyer, who had both left and returned. to the union.
The Lions’ biggest blow recently was luring Stormers winger Edwill van der Merwe to the union earlier this season, while Sharks scrum-half Sanele Nohamba, who had fallen down the pecking order there- low, also recently signed.
But with the heavy losses they have now suffered during the season and with few new signings on the horizon, the months are looking bleak for the union as they try to scramble to bring in reinforcements.