Lions facing new raid on player resources?
TRANSFER RUMOURS: The Lions are facing another raid on the player resources, just a week after a mass exodus.
It has been confirmed that the Stormers have Junior Springbok and former SA Schools back Wandisile Simelane in their sights.
Saracens-based prop Vincent Koch, a key player in the Boks’ 32-12 win over England in the World Cup Final, is also on the Stormers’ radar.
@rugby365com has reliably learned that the Stormers expect to “have an answer” by next week.
Confirmation of the raid on the Lions’ resources follows just a day after the Stormers announced they had acquired the services of World Cup-winning Springbok Warrick Gelant.
The raid on Ellis Park will be another blow for the Lions, coming in the wake of last Friday’s announcement of the departure of several key players and a coaching staff member.
World Cup-winning hooker Malcolm Marx headlined the departures of players who had taken up the option of tearing up their contracts as part of SA Rugby’s 21-day clause – the result of the cost-cutting exercises, formulated and agreed to by bodies representing SA Rugby, MyPlayers (the players’ representative organisation), Sport Employees’ Unite (employees’ trade union) and the South African Rugby Employers’ Organisation (SAREO – representing the provincial unions).
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Marx was joined in the exit queue by Ruan Vermaak, Tyrone Green and Shaun Reynolds, as well as assistant coach Neil de Bruin.
Last week’s departures further diluted the Lions’ already threadbare player resources – following the decampments of the previous two years.
They have lost players like Robbie Coetzee, Armand van der Merwe, Lourens Erasmus, Robert Kruger, Albertus Smith, James Venter, Lionel Mapoe, Harold Vorster, Ruan Combrinck, Madosh Tambwe, Sylvian Mahuza, Ruan Dreyer, Corné Fourie, Jacques van Rooyen, Franco Mostert and Rohan Janse van Rensburg.
Springbok wing Aphiwe Dyantyi has been suspended and former captain Warren Whiteley forced into coaching as a result of his ongoing knee injury.
Former head coach Swys de Bruin retired.
Lions Rugby Company Chief Executive Officer Rudolph Straeuli last week played down the raids.
Straeuli, speaking to @rugby365com said he was looking at the bigger picture.