KSA Shark ©

2009 S14 Preview – Lions

Written by Andre Bosch (KSA Shark ©)

Posted in :In the news, Lions, Super 14 on 27 Jan 2009 at 08:00

The Lions will go into this year’s Super 14 with coach Eugene Eloff in the third and final year of his much-talked about three-year plan to turn the side into a Super force.

The first two years of Eloff’s plan did not always have the desired results – although Eloff dismissed the 13th and 14th-placed finishes with his eternal optimism and the readymade excuse of 2009 being year three.

He has made some interesting signings and the arrival of American Eagles captain Todd Clever will bring with it a certain amount of expectation – as will the return of Ashwin Willemse and Jannes Labuschagne.

There does seem to be more depth in key positions than the past two years and if Springboks André Pretorius and Jaque Fourie stay injury free, the men from Johannesburg could make it a top 10 finish.

However, it is difficult to see the Lions making it into the top half of the standings despite all their promise.

They are committed and motivated, but that can only carry them so far.

Strengths: Team spirit, a real passion for the game and a good coach. They also have some great individual talents, a strong and inspirational captain and a stadium that has proved to be very intimidating for visiting teams.

Weaknesses: Even with the new signings, there will remain questions about their depth if injury strikes. They also still need to prove they truly believe in their own ability – especially on the road.

Noteworthy signings: Todd Clever (United States), Ashwin Willemse (Biarritz Olympique), Lawrence Sephaka (Toulon), Jannes Labuschagne (back from retirement), Henno Mentz (Sharks), Barry Goodes (Veneziamestre in Italy).

Noteworthy losses: Joe van Niekerk (to Toulon), Jaco Pretorius (Bulls), Rayno Benjamin (SA Sevens squad), Jaco van Schalkwyk (Italy), Cobus Grobler (Newcastle-on-Tyne)

Coach: Eugene Eloff has been enormously successful with the side in the Currie Cup, installing the same passion within the Lions squad that he did in South Africa’s Under-19 side. They have been semifinalists for the last two years, and finalists in 2007. Eloff now need to show he can take the team a step up at Super 143 level.

Captain: Cobus Grobbelaar is a hard-working flank with a very high workrate. His tackling and support running around the park is exceptional. Still regarded as one of the most unlucky players not to be selected for the Springboks. He took over the captaincy armband from Ernst Joubert midway through last year’s Super 14, when injury ruled out the No.8, and was retained in this leadership role for this year.

Player(s) to watch: There is no doubt that American flank Todd Clever will be in the spotlight, having to plug the gap left by the departure of Springbok Joe van Niekerk to French club Toulon. But the key players will be seasoned Springboks André Pretorius and Jaque Fourie, who must give a talented backline some direction.

2008 Position: 14th
Best finish: 3rd in 2001
Worst finish: 14th in the 2008 S14; 12th in the S12 (1998, 2003, 2004)
Home Venue: Ellis Park, Johannesburg (capacity 62,000)

2009 Prediction: They have potential and it will be a much improved season – but not enough to get them all the way into the top half of the standings. 8th

Lions squad – provisional: Cobus Grobbelaar, Lawrence Sephaka, Doppies la Grange, Andre Pretorius, Jano Vermaak, Louis Ludik, Heinke van der Merwe, Ernst Joubert, Jaque Fourie, Franco van der Merwe, Earl Rose, Anton van Zyl, Ethienne Reynecke, Jaco van Schalkwyk, Willie Wepener, Louis Strydom, Jannie Boshoff, Willem Alberts, JC Janse van Rensburg, Gerhard Mostert, Walter Venter, Gert Muller, Dewald Senekal, Chris Jonck, Ross Geldenhuys, Henno Mentz, Ashwin Willemse, Michael Killian, Jan van Zyl, Justin Wheeler, Jannes Labuschagne

Friday, February 13: v Cheetahs, home
Saturday, February 21: v Sharks, away
Saturday, February 28: v Bulls, home
Saturday, March 7: Bye
Saturday, March 14: v Stormers, away
Saturday, March 21: v Brumbies, home
Saturday, March 28: v Hurricanes, home
Saturday, April 4: v Chiefs, away
Friday, April 10: v Blues, away
Saturday, April 18: v Reds, away
Friday, April 24: v Western Force, away
Friday, May 1: v Crusaders, home
Friday, May 8: v Highlanders, home
Friday, May 15: v Waratahs, home

Courtesy of Rugby 365


  • 8th is actually in my opinion NOT such a big call for these guys, They have it in them and if lady luck smiles on them on the injury front then 8th is a certainty.

  • Comment 1, posted at 27.01.09 08:14:35 by KSA Shark © Reply
    KSA Shark ©
  • Nice Article , and yes I agree they have the potential, and if there is one ling Loffie does do well its install self belief, I am not holding my breath but I believe that these guys will cause some major upsets, if they get a good start against the Cheetahs, Sharks and Bulls, then the self belief will kick in and who knows maybe a top half finish. Stranger things have happened, but I have been a long suffering lion supporter and have learnt not to be to optimistic, but will be holding thumbs.

  • Comment 2, posted at 27.01.09 08:44:44 by Whindy Reply
    Competition WinnerCompetition Winner
  • @Whindy (Comment 2) :

    The ONE out of the 14 Previews in which I forgot to credit the author (I have fixed that now) and you have to choose that one to say nice article. 🙂

  • Comment 3, posted at 27.01.09 08:50:27 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @Whindy (Comment 2) :

    That start is going to be all about psychology IMO.

    You guys will beat the Cheetahs but then the next two weeks won’t be that easy and if you lose those the guys need to have the mental ability to to overcome those two losses and not crawl into their shells.

  • Comment 4, posted at 27.01.09 08:52:30 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Strengths: Team spirit, a real passion for the game and a good coach. They also have some great individual talents, ………. and a stadium that has proved to be very intimidating for visiting teams.

    This is a load of nonsense…it implies that the Lions have no strengths…(except maybe the strength to deny Stormers crucial BP’s…)

  • Comment 5, posted at 27.01.09 09:06:30 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 1) : 8th…that’s the Bulls’ spot… 😛

  • Comment 6, posted at 27.01.09 09:07:49 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 6) :

    Hehehhehe I actually said the Bulls would end 9th, that then means the Bulls will be below the Lions. 😯

    I need to re-evaluate my rankings. 😉
    The 365 guys did put the Bulls at 5/6 though.

  • Comment 7, posted at 27.01.09 09:11:15 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 7) :

    This squad looks great……….

    …..for the Currie Cup…

  • Comment 8, posted at 27.01.09 09:15:01 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 5) :

    Well the LIONS play all the derbies in the first 5 weeks…(5 weeks because of a bye between game 3 and 4)…

    So the Stormers cannot blame anyone this time around…

    Anyways…every team plays to prevent the oppo a bonus point…right through the S14…why is it only negative in the!??!

  • Comment 9, posted at 27.01.09 10:45:59 by Hmmm Reply

  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 8) :

    Well…then the LIONS should just tell themselves it is only CC and they’ll make teh semi’s…

  • Comment 10, posted at 27.01.09 11:03:30 by Hmmm Reply

  • The LIONS have an outside chance of doing well…but to do “ok”…but to do this they will need to win games against the SA sides…they have had a bad run against SA sides in the last few years winning only 1 out of 12 in the last 3 years…

  • Comment 11, posted at 27.01.09 11:09:28 by Hmmm Reply

  • @Hmmm (Comment 11) : What’s their record against overseas clubs in the last 3 years?

  • Comment 12, posted at 27.01.09 11:12:09 by blckshrk - PROTEAS Reply

    blackshark - I'm back!
  • @Hmmm (Comment 10) :
    If only you had thought of this a few years ago – but better late than never. :mrgreen:

  • Comment 13, posted at 27.01.09 11:13:54 by Big Fish Reply
    Big Fish
  • The players heard today who made the squad and who didn’t, will see if I can get some info. At least 2 players mentioned in the provisional squad did not make it.

  • Comment 14, posted at 27.01.09 11:47:13 by walter van transvaal.co.za Reply

    walter van Lions World
  • @walter van transvaal.co.za (Comment 14) : Cmon Walter, get to sniffing!

  • Comment 15, posted at 27.01.09 12:04:59 by PJLD Reply
  • okay, make that 3 players mentioned in the provisional squad that didn’t make it, and I don’t know about a 4th but it’s highly unlikely that he would make the squad

  • Comment 16, posted at 27.01.09 12:10:06 by walter van transvaal.co.za Reply

    walter van Lions World
  • @walter van transvaal.co.za (Comment 16) : c’mon… write us an exclusive 🙂

  • Comment 17, posted at 27.01.09 12:12:55 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @blckshrk – PROTEAS (Comment 12) :

    Actually better than home sides…

    They have won 2 and drawn 1 in the last 3 eyars if not mistaken…

  • Comment 18, posted at 27.01.09 13:31:55 by Hmmm Reply

  • @Big Fish (Comment 13) :

    I am a bit slow…but seems you too for catching that… 😉

  • Comment 19, posted at 27.01.09 13:34:46 by Hmmm Reply

  • @walter van transvaal.co.za (Comment 14) :

    Jaco v Schalkwyk; Jan van Zyl and possibly Jannie Boshoff…

  • Comment 20, posted at 27.01.09 13:57:55 by Hmmm Reply

  • okay, Jaco van Schalkwyk is now overseas so he can’t make the squad, and I doubt that Jan van Zyl will make it.

    The following players did not make it: Walter Venter, Ethienne Reynecke and Louis Strydom.

    Waiting for more info…

  • Comment 21, posted at 27.01.09 14:22:21 by walter van transvaal.co.za Reply

    walter van Lions World
  • @walter van transvaal.co.za (Comment 21) :

    Walter Venter???????????????

  • Comment 22, posted at 27.01.09 14:39:01 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Venter and Strydom are shock ommissions in my book.

    Reynecke I can sort of understand.

    Who will his centers be?
    Fourie, Le grange, Goodes (who else)

    Rose, Pretorius

  • Comment 23, posted at 27.01.09 14:43:32 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • Reynecke had a bad game on Saturday but Venter and Strydom really played well. I don’t understand how these two players could have been overlooked

  • Comment 24, posted at 27.01.09 14:47:57 by walter van transvaal.co.za Reply

    walter van Lions World
  • @walter van transvaal.co.za (Comment 24) : so is Hans van Dyk ahead of Reynecke? Shocking!

  • Comment 25, posted at 27.01.09 14:52:50 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • @walter van transvaal.co.za (Comment 21) :

    Walter Venter!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!?!??!??!?!?!??!?!??!??!??!??!??!?!??!?!???!??!??!

  • Comment 26, posted at 27.01.09 15:29:18 by Hmmm Reply

  • Not that Strydom is good enough…

    But what if Andre and Rose get injured on tour? Who is back-up flyhalf then…

  • Comment 27, posted at 27.01.09 15:32:17 by Hmmm Reply

  • Wasnt there talk of Reyneke leaving the Lions?

  • Comment 28, posted at 27.01.09 15:32:30 by PJLD Reply
  • But Walter Venter!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!??!

    Sop I take it Jannie Boshoff made the squad…else we will be short on centre’s…

  • Comment 29, posted at 27.01.09 15:33:12 by Hmmm Reply

  • @robdylan (Comment 25) :

    I am glad he left out some “expected pick’s” so that players know they all can be dropped…that was one of my only problems with Loffie…he is too soft…

    He is the complete oppo of Straulie… LoL

  • Comment 30, posted at 27.01.09 15:36:54 by Hmmm Reply

  • @PJLD (Comment 28) : yes – there was. I wonder if he’s still at the airport?

  • Comment 31, posted at 27.01.09 15:55:58 by robdylan Reply
    Competition Winner Administrator
  • Best finish: 3rd in 2001

    This is actually not correct as the LIONS are only 2 years old…

    The Cats was a combination of the LIONS/Cheetahs/Griffons/Griekwas with games played at both Ellis park and Springbok park…of which the latter 3 broke off to make up a team…
    So the LIONS cannot get the credit for the results under the the Cats banner…

  • Comment 32, posted at 27.01.09 16:34:41 by Hmmm Reply

  • LIONS:
    Best was 12th in 2007
    Worst was 14th in 2008

  • Comment 33, posted at 27.01.09 16:41:52 by Hmmm Reply

  • @Hmmm (Comment 32) :

    if you REALLY want to nitpick then you can also say you actually won the thing in 19voertsek when it was still the Super10. 😛

  • Comment 34, posted at 27.01.09 16:42:13 by KSA Shark © Reply

    KSA Shark ©
  • However they did finish 13th in 2006…under the Cats…but with the new structure…

  • Comment 35, posted at 27.01.09 16:45:23 by Hmmm Reply

  • @KSA Shark © (Comment 34) :

    That was Transvaal in the amateur era…so no…
    I’d say that Transvaal (my team then) won it in 1993…

  • Comment 36, posted at 27.01.09 16:47:11 by Hmmm Reply


Add Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.