Were Kriel to call Ellis Park home again, it would be a massive boost for the Johannesburg-based team
There may be good and bad news for the Lions as they build-up this week to their 2020 Super Rugby opener against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on Saturday.
The good news is that former captain and flank Jaco Kriel is rumoured to be on his way back to Johannesburg with the three-time competition runners-up; the bad news is that veteran prop Jannie du Plessis, who only joined the Lions at the end of last year, may be headed back to Montpellier in France.
According to reports in the media, the 30-year-old Kriel, who debuted for Gloucester in the latter stages of 2018, has been in discussions with the English club and the Lions about a possible return to his former team. Kriel, who previously played 71 Super Rugby matches for the Lions and also ran out on 11 occasions for the Springboks, has had an injury-plagued stay at Gloucester, who are coached by former Lions coach Johan Ackermann.
Were Kriel to call Ellis Park home again, it would be a massive boost for the Johannesburg-based team.
They have lost several big-name players in recent seasons, among them Franco Mostert, Lionel Mapoe, Faf de Klerk and Ruan Combrinck, while hooker Malcolm Marx is on a sabbatical in Japan and flank Kwagga Smith is also not available this year. Regular captain Warren Whiteley is also not part of the playing group this year because of a knee injury.
Du Plessis (37) and a member of the 2007 Rugby World Cup winning Boks, joined the Lions late last year, apparently on loan from his French club, Montpellier, who have now requested he return to France. A crisis at tighthead prop – because of injury and national call-ups – have apparently left Montpellier thin up-front and, according to reports, they want Du Plessis back to play in the Top 14.
Meanwhile, Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen is set to name his team today or tomorrow for Saturday’s Super Rugby opener.
Flyhalf Elton Jantjies, who led the team against the Bulls at Superhero Sunday, is expected to be named as team captain. The Lions squad will fly out to Argentina tomorrow.