‘There is no fate but what we make.’ Cheesy I know, but this famous movie line might just be the best description of what the future holds for young Lionel Cronje.
I have possibly wasted too many inches of column space in the past questioning the management of Lionel Cronje especially since most of us has yet to see him produce the type of performances many of his fans believe he is capable of. Of what there is no doubt however, is that this young man now has the opportunity to vindicate not only himself, but those who support him.
Cronje was brought to the Cape with a big hooraa by Director of Rugby, Rassie Erasmus, in 2009 as a promising young star who made a name for himself in the SA U/20 team. Such was his promise that the union and their coaches even compared him to Francois Steyn at the time.
This fairytale would be short-lived however as Cronje became involved in a bar brawl in 2010 which saw him being internally disciplined by the team and management resulting in his exclusion from the Super rugby squad of that year.
Given the Stormers and Western Province’s success in 2010 with Peter Grant and Willem de Waal occupying the number 10 jersey for the whole year, and young Gary van Aswegen guiding the U/21 team to Currie Cup success, the star of Lionel Cronje faded very fast.
Given little chance to show his ability at flyhalf and the persistent rumours that he is not much of a team-man, Lionel was heading down a very dark road.
With Willem de Waal heading off to Italy in late 2010 and Grant stuck in Japan well into the 2011 season, Cronje was offered a glimmer of hope. Surprisingly however, Coetzee seemed to favour new (Boland) recruit Elgar Watts and now senior player, Gary van Aswegen in the flyhalf position during the pre-season games.
Cronje seemed destined to play out 2011 much as he finished 2010 in the WP Vodacom Cup side.
‘Fate’ however, has now given Cronje the one break he so desperately need.
Prior to the Lions game the Stormers’ first choice pivot, Peter Grant, sustained a knee injury in training and unsurprisingly, Allister Coetzee called up Gary van Aswegen to the senior team with Lionel Cronje promoted to the bench. Minutes into the Lions game however, Van Aswegen also sustained an injury which will keep him sidelined for the best part of a month and from no-where, Lionel found himself in the pound seat.
This week, in what promises to be one of the most crucial matches for the Cape franchise to determine who will end up conference winners, Cronje might just get the chance to finally show everyone what he is made of.
Peter Grant has been bracketed in the Stormers team-sheet as a possible starter with Coetzee giving him until the very last minute to prove his fitness, but it is highly unlikely he will take the field.
In life, one rarely gets a second bite at the cherry or to correct the wrongs of the past, but for Cronje, fate seemed to have played a hand in which he now has just that.
Will his star shine again? Well, I believe that if that is going to be the case, he only has one shot at this, but one shot is all great players need.Tweet