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South African Super Rugby Franchises

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Lions

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In todays edition of the Lions Super Rugby contenders we look at the Rugby equivalent of the hyena and jackal, the Loose Frowards.

The men who have to get low down and dirty, and win the ball wherever it’s available, but mostly on the ground.

I’ll kick off with the stalwarts of the 2011 season.

JOSHUA STRAUSS

Name: Joshua Strauss
Position: Loose Forward
Physical: 2.00m; 114kg
Born: 23.10.86, Bellville
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 37 (Career)
Provincial Points: 20 (4t)
Provincial Debut: 2010 v Cheetahs
Super Rugby Caps: 15 (Career)
Super Rugby Points: 20 (4t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2011 v Bulls

The charismatic Lions captain has become something of a cult figure in Johannesburg (and probably countrywide) Rugby circles, has made a massive impact since being drafted into the Lions team. Instantly recognisabl;e on the field due to his somewhat overgrown and unkempt beard, the never say die loose forward leads by example, is an excellent communicator with match officials, and a great motivator to his team mates.

Something of a latecomer to Rugby, Josh started his carreer in the Boland where he played Under 19 and Under 21 provincial Rugby, followed by a short stint in Europe, only to return to South africa where he joined up with the Lions in 2010.

After a watershed (for the Lions) 2011 Super Rugby campaign, Strauss took over the captaincy reigns during the Currie Cup, and the rest as they say is history.

Equally at home at Flank or Eigth Man, we can expect Joshua to take the field in the starting line up for the majority of the 2012 Super Rugby campaign.

 

DERICK MINNIE 

Name: Derick Minnie
Position: Flank
Physical: 1.86m; 103kg
Born: 29.10.86, Johannesburg
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 45 (Career)
Provincial Points: 60 (12t)
Provincial Debut: 2008 v Boland
Super Rugby Caps: 26 (Career)
Super Rugby Points: 15 (3t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2010 v Stormers

A born and bred son of Jo’burg, this “tough as old boots” openside flanker loves doing the dirty work on the ground.

Derek Minnie has, since gaining a regular place in the Lions starting line up, proven to friend and foe alike that he is in the top echelon among South Africa’s “fetchers”.

Admittedly, there are times when the hard working number 6 gives away some penalties, but that goes with the territory.

Having played an integral part in the Lions’ successful Currie Cup campaign in 2011, many critics expect Minnie to have an even bigger year in 2012, which if it comes off could well see the big, fast and mobile flanker pushing for higher honours.

Expect Derek to do battle with former captain Cobus Grobbellaar to secure the openside starting berth.

 

COBUS GROBBELLAAR

Name: Cobus Grobbelaar
Position: Loose Forward
Physical: 1.84m; 101kg
Born: 27.05.81, Johannesburg
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 103
Provincial Points: 70 (14t)
Provincial Debut: 2003 v Pumas
Super Rugby Caps: 81 (Career)
Super Rugby Points: 40 (8t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2004 v Reds

Cobus “Batwatch” Grobbellaar is now something of a veteran at the Lions, having made his Provincial debut in 2003, and with more than 80 Super Rugby caps behind his name.

As a senior player who has willingly filled the captaincy role when required, “Batwatch” must count himself unlucky to have played his Rugby at a time when South African was blessed with a plethora of talented openside flankers.

Never afraid of hard work, Cobus leads by example, battling for the ball on the floor when required, as well as making countless tackles and carrying the ball strongly in pursuit of team points.

Expect Cobus to challenge with Derick Minnie for the starting openside berth.

 

DOPPIES LE ROUX 

Name: Doppies le Roux
Position: Loose Forward
Physical: 1.91m; 108kg
Born: 28.03.85
Province: Ford Pumas
Provincial Caps: Not Available
Provincial Points: Not Available
Provincial Debut: Not Available
Super Rugby Caps: Not Available
Super Rugby Points: Not Available
Super Rugby Debut: Not Available

The tough as teak Pumas Captain impressed many pundits during the 2011 Currie Cup with his strong performances and never say die attitude, as well as being a constant irritation and thorn in the flesh of opposing teams.

Drafted into the Lions Super Rugby squad for the 2012 campaign, I am sure we will see Doppies getting game time, most likely off the bench initially where he will in all likelihood cover for Blindside Flank and Eigth Man.

Should he show the skills level and attitude displayed during the 2011 Currie Cup, I am sure he will not let the side down, and indeed will win many supporters in Johannesburg.

 

JACO KRIEL

Name: Jaco Kriel
Position: Flank
Physical: 1.84m; 98kg
Born: 21.89.89, Standerston
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 5
Provincial Points: -
Provincial Debut: 2010 v Bulls
Super Rugby Caps: 1
Super Rugby Points: -
Super Rugby Debut: 2011 v Hurricanes

A young and inexperienced (at Provincial level) player, Kriel has excelled in the Varsity Cup in recent seasons where he represents UJ.

A strong ball carrier who works tirelessly in the loose, we can expect Jaco to be a fringe squad member initially  with perhaps some game time off the bench, and possibly a start or two as the season progresses depending on the type of season the team is having and the ongoing expectations of the team’s management.

 

WARREN WHITELEY

Name: Warren Whiteley
Position: Loose Forward
Physical: 1.93m; 105kg
Born: 18.09.87, Durban
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 44 (Career)
Provincial Points: 40 (8t)
Provincial Debut: 2008 v Sharks
Super Rugby Caps: 16
Super Rugby Points: 15 (3t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2011 v Bulls

This young and dynamic loose forward has been something of a relevation since joining the Lions.

A strong and athletic line out player, Warren has an amazing turn of speed with ball in hand, that is not immediately obvious given his somewhat awkward looking running style.

Strong on defense as well as an excellent support player for the quick men, expect this to be a year where the 24 year old’s Rugby star shines very brightly.

The only downside for the young man is that he will be competing with the likes of Michael Rhodes and Joshua Strauss for game time. Two players who also have a great role to play in this years’ campaign.

 

MICHAEL RHODES 

Name: Michael Rhodes
Position: Flank/Lock
Physical: 1.96m; 114kg
Born: 19.12.87, Durban
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 50 (Career)
Provincial Points: 40 (8t)
Provincial Debut: 2009 v Lions (Sharks)
Super Rugby Caps: 11 (Career)
Super Rugby Points: 10 (2t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2011 (Cheetahs)

REFER TO THE ARTICLE ON “LOCKS” FOR A SYNOPSIS ON THIS PLAYER.

 

WIKUS VAN HEERDEN

Name: Wikus van Heerden
Position: Flank/Lock
Physical: 1.93m; 107kg
Born: 25.02.79, Johannesburg
Province: Golden Lions
Provincial Caps: 114 (Career); 99 (Lions)
Provincial Points: 115 (23t)
Provincial Debut: 2001 v Bulls
Super Rugby Caps: 96 (Career)
Super Rugby Points: 90 (18t)
Super Rugby Debut: 2003 v Stormers
Test Caps: 14 Test Points: 5 (1t)
Test Debut: 2003 v Scotland

REFER TO THE ARTICLE ON “LOCKS” FOR A SYNOPSIS ON THIS PLAYER.

 

OVERVIEW

Following on from the successful 2011 Currie Cup campaign, where the Lions squad really started to gel as a unit, I expect that the Lions group of Loose Forwards will more than hold their own against ANY of the other teams in the competition.

With a blend of hardened experience, and extremely talented and willing youngsters, the Lions have a group of Loosies that have the ability to take on the best.

I expect that we will see coach John Mitchell requesting a very fast paced game that will suit the Lions players whom I can assure you will be VERY fit. This coupled with the fact that the Lions Loose forwards are more than capable first phase players in both the scum and line out should see the Lions pack really surprising a number of the other Super Rugby packs.

All in all, a capable group of loose forwards with a number of future super stars in their midst.

4 Responses to Lions Super Rugby contenders (continued) – Loosies

  • 1

    Whew. Forwards finished.
    Amazing how much work goes into this type of post.

  • 2

    I must say, this bunch of Loose Forwards looks really impressive to me.

    I can honestly say that they have no need to stand back for ANY OTHER GROUP of loosies in the competition IMO.

  • 3

    Lions to introduce the Super Rugby squad to the Media tomorrow at 13h00, followed by the team announcement for the game v the Cheetahs.

    Just 3 sleeps until the fun begins.

    Now how do I educate ALL clients that Friday evenings, all day Saturday, and Sunday mornings (for golf) are NO LONGER ON THE WORKING DIARY?

    Problems, problems, problems!

  • 4

    Gee, Strauss is a man mountain! He can surely be almost as heavy as Alberts, just taller, and probably a tad more nimble! He has really impressed me, in fact the Lions loosies in general have been good. All the SA teams blessed with an abundance of top notch athletic loosies.
    The list is endless!
    6′s: Brussow, Stegmann, Burger, Minnie, Daniels, Carr, Botes, Grobbelaar, and Downey, and the Puma’ s regular cappie (Dementia is a biatch)
    7′s: Juan, Alberts, Deysel, Kolisi, vd Walt, Johnson, Coetzee, Rhodes, Deysel, Whitely
    8′s: Strauss, CJ Stander, Spies, Vermeulen, Kankowski, Le Roux
    Hard and skilled players


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