Lions welcome prodigal son again as versatile Gianni Lombard re-signs

Gianni Lombard, long-term successor to Elton Jantjies?

One of the prodigal sons of Leos is back.

Gianni Lombard, previously considered one of South African rugby’s most gifted young playmakers, calls Ellis Park home again after a short spell in Japan.

The 24-year-old, who twice represented the Springboks juniors at the Rugby World Under-20 Championship in 2017 and 2018, is equally gifted at flyhalf and full-back and has been targeted for this versatility.

However, Lombard is expected to mainly compete with Lions first-choice pivot Jordan Hendrikse, 21, as the franchises anticipate an increased workload next season thanks to their planned participation in the European Challenge Cup, which takes place at the same time. time as the United Rugby Championship (URC).

The former Paarl Boys High star, who joined as a junior with good pal Manny Rass in what was seen as a real coup, was recently part of the former Lions mentor’s setup Johan Ackermann at the Red Hurricanes with Bok flyhalf Elton Jantjies.

He has been troubled by back-to-back major knee injuries, prompting him to head east in a less demanding environment last year to get back to full fitness.

Lombard had his tongue in the 2019 Super Rugby campaign, notably when he netted a stunning last-gasp penalty in a comeback win over Rebels before combining well with Jantjies – who played inside center in a controversial late switch – to No.10 in a surprise victory over the Chiefs in Hamilton.

Unfortunately, he suffered his first ACL injury later in that game.

The Lions will also announce the signing of loyal Sharks center Marius Louw once the Sharks’ URC campaign is over.

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Charles P. Patton