Lions building depth as new signings boost their potential

December 22, 2022 0 By Cypher9ja

The Lions are slowly but surely building precious depth into their squad, which will allow them to realistically challenge on two fronts, in the United Rugby Championship (URC) and the Challenge Cup competitions going forward.

Blitzboks star JC Pretorius was snapped up as a potential star signing earlier this week, while the Lions have also acquired the services of experienced hooker Michael van Vuuren.

The Lions have by far the least depth of the four South African URC franchises, and although they still have a long way to go, these two signings will give them a good boost over the rest of the season.

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In 24-year-old Pretorius the Lions may have unearthed another Sevens to 15s gem, in the same mould of Springbok star Kwagga Smith, who also joined the Lions from the Sevens circuit back in 2014.

Pretorius will also be playing at flank, where he will battle it out with the likes of Jaco Kriel and Emmanuel Tshituka for a starting berth, and has admitted that he has been in contact with Smith, who is helping him make the transition into the 15s game.

Role model

“I chat with Kwagga often. He’s also a role model to me, and he was also at the Lions, and he knows the ins and outs here and the system. He can help me a lot, especially with my role as a No 6 flank,” said Pretorius.

“There will be challenges with learning the systems and adapting to the defensive structure, and I know that in attacking, too, the loose forwards have a different role than they do in Sevens.

“I’ve slotted in at training, and because of the awareness you need to have in Sevens, everything feels a bit slow. I’ll be bringing in a lot of vocals on defence, and a work ethic, like Kwagga had, with regards to looking to poach the ball.”

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In 31-year-old Van Vuuren the Lions have signed a very experienced campaigner who has been around the block, particularly in Europe, and who will add some good depth to their No 2 stocks.

Van Vuuren has played for the Cheetahs and Eastern Province Kings in SA, but it will be his wealth of European rugby experience, having played for Stade Francais, Leicester Tigers, Bath, London Irish, Northampton Saints and most recently Wasps, amongst other teams, that will benefit the Lions.