Pretorius, Joubert to lead the Lions’ pride




The Lions are ready to revive the good old days of yesteryear, as they prepare for the Super 14 under a new name, a new coach and a new captain. With Wikus van Heerden heading for Loftus, to follow in his father’s footsteps, Lions coach Eugene Eloff is busy grooming a new leader for his pride.

And on Monday Eloff revealed that Springbok fly-half Andr’ Pretorius and loose forward Ernst Joubert are the front runners to lead the new side.

Joubert, who filled in for Van Heerden on occasion this year, is the logical choice for the role. According to Eloff, both Joubert and Pretorius command the necessary respect and stature to captain the side.

But with Pretorius currently in the Springbok squad, Joubert could be the man to wear the captaincy armband for Eloff as they look to continue an amazing rescue act of a team that was once ranked as the most powerful provincial outfit in the world.

Pretorius is an immensely popular figure at Ellis Park, and would also be a welcome choice, and, as one of the catalysts for 2006 Currie Cup revival, his captaincy would signal an innovative and expressive rugby future for the franchise.

Maybe this would see the team return of the glory years of the early 1990s – when they won the Super 10 title with Kitch Christie and Francois Pienaar (then Transvaal) in 1993.

Lions supporters are hoping that those glory days are about to return, with the name Cats having been scrapped in favour of a more noble beast.

But either way, things are looking up for Eugene Eloff and his charges.

The Lions have only just had their place in next year’s competition confirmed, when the Spears withdrew their court action against the South African Rugby Union (SARU) and thus ended their claim to participation in the event.

But Eloff had never let the situation faze him. He was just making sure that the Lions were going to be ready for Super rugby.

“I never concerned myself with anything other than the job at hand – to prepare a rugby side for competition.”

The Lions have been in training since October 23, and have focused on aspects such as core fitness , core strength and basic rugby skills – choosing to lay a platform until they enter the next phase of training, where patterns of play and on-field decision-making will be their focus.

Eloff says he is happy with the new identity of the Lions.

“We are able to put the past behind us, and move forward; leaving behind the Cats and everything that was associated with that era.”

Eloff is confident his missing Springboks will be able to slip back into Super 14 preparations smoothly, but says they do miss out on being a part of that “core of camaraderie” which comes with pre-season training.

The Lions coach also revealed that they will begin their pre-season warm-up matches with a clash against the Leopards on January 13, followed by matches against the Pumas and the Bulls.

With either Joubert or Pretorius as captain, they will be hoping to carry some of their Currie Cup momentum through to the Super 14 and then maybe they could just be next year’s surprise package.

By Chris Waldburger -365 Digital

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