Connect with us



Will the Lions front up this season in Super Rugby?

Spider Man Malcolm Marx

11 February 2019, by: Quintin van Jaarsveld


The Lions are in for a testing Super Rugby campaign after losing much of the core that made them South Africa’s flag bearers in recent years.

Since their remarkable rise in 2016, the Lions have ruled as the undisputed kings of the South African jungle, a position of power they parlayed into three successive runners-up results.

Since their remarkable rise in 2016, the Lions have ruled as the undisputed kings of the South African jungle, a position of power they parlayed into three successive runners-up results.

Master man manager and beloved mentor Johan Ackermann, in his unique and heartfelt way, had built a dynasty South African rugby had not seen since the legendary Bulls team that won three titles in four years from 2007 to 2010.

In many ways, the Lions were unlucky not to claim the crown. Having rose from the ashes as Super Rugby discards and also-rans to three straight finals in a manner no-one outside of the close-knit group could’ve imagined, they had looked destined to win their maiden title in fairy-tale fashion (their 1993 triumph is not recognised as an official Super Rugby title as it came two years prior to the SANZAR era).

But alas; fate cruelly turned on the Cinderella team, who’d captured the hearts of rugby lovers across the world, turning their dream into a recurring nightmare. The now infamous 25-17 home final defeat to the Crusaders in 2017 – after ever-present flank Kwagga Smith was red-carded for a dangerous tackle on fullback David Havili minutes before half time – was particularly heart-breaking for the side and their supporters.

Swys de Bruin did a splendid job in guiding the weakened team he inherited from the departed Ackerman to the final last year. However, with the loss of Springbok trio Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert and Ruan Dreyer – who followed their former coach to Gloucester – as well as the likes of Rohan Janse van Rensburg (Sale Sharks), Marco Jansen van Vuuren (sevens) and Jacques van Rooyen (Bath) at the end of 2018, the Lions are in for a completely different fight this year.

The heart and fire will still be there, there’s doubt about that, as will be the belief within the pride, but sadly, the Lions’ days as title contenders – at least for the foreseeable future – are behind them.

Generals Warren Whiteley and Elton Jantjies will passionately lead the charge and will be instrumental as the heart and soul of the side once again, and they still have a slew of green and gold-class soldiers such as Ross Cronje, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Lionel Mapoe, Courtnall Skosan, Ruan Combrinck, Andries Coetzee and marquee signing Stephan Lewies in their ranks.

Their champion fighter, however, comes in the fearsome form of Malcolm Marx, an immovable man mountain who’s cemented himself as the world’s best hooker with his special blend of brute force, elite set-piece play and pillaging prowess.

The Bok beast incarnate’s name is the first to be written on to the team sheet and the first opponents focus on. He’s always in the thick of the action and, worryingly for opposing teams, is only getting better. He will indeed be carefully managed with the World Cup in mind, but expect him to maximize his minutes and give his all to the Lions’ cause.

Unfortunately for the Johannesburg side, they kick-off the season against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires, where they’ve never beaten their bogey team and have suffered some heavy defeats, and are in for a tough tour of Australasia with the Brumbies, Chiefs and the defending-champion Crusaders lying in wait.

A slide is inevitable. The question is: how far will they fall? It’ll be the task of those left behind to limit the damage.

Forward: Hacjivah Dayimani
Back: Aphiwe Dyantyi

Overall: Ninth
South African Conference: Third

BET: Super Rugby 2019

Open your account today and get a 100% deposit match on your first deposit up to R500!

Quintin Van Jaarsveld is a former MDDA-Sanlam SA Local Sports Journalist of the Year and a former three-time Vodacom KwaZulu-Natal Sports Journalist of the Year. Formerly the sports editor and Outstanding Journalist of the Year award winner at The Fever Media Group, deputy editor at eHowzit, editor at and senior staff writer at, he boasts over 15 years’ experience and is currently a freelance sports writer.

More in News