Lions move to stem exodus

THE list of rugby players who have deserted the Gauteng Lions over the past few seasons must make the hierarchy in Doornfontein cringe with horror, let alone embarrassment.

THE list of rugby players who have deserted the Gauteng Lions over the past few seasons must make the hierarchy in Doornfontein cringe with horror, let alone embarrassment.

Louis Ludik, Willem Alberts, Jaque Fourie and Anton van Zyl have all left in the past 12 months. Throw in the names Bryan Habana, Andre Pretorius, Brian Mujati and Schalk Brits, among others, and it points to why the side finished bottom of the log in this year's Super 14 without a win to their name.

But with the Currie Cup season starting next week, the Lions are desperate not to let any more players slip through their fingers. Which could be why Lions CEO Manie Reyneke has moved quickly to dispel rumours that more of their players might be on their way to other provinces.

"There have been rumours circulating in the media that Doppies le Grange and Jano Vermaak are leaving the Lions. I would like to put the rumours to rest. Doppies has just signed an extension of his contract, and we are in the final stages of discussions with Jano, who will in all likelihood also sign with the next few days," Reyneke said.

Vermaak would be a major loss if he leaves. Until he broke his leg six months ago, which ruled him out for most of the 2010 Super 14, the fiery scrumhalf was being touted as a future Springbok.

He is back, though, and again displaying his typically robust game as he battles back to full fitness. Another Lions player who has re-signed with the province until June 2012 is Ross Geldenhuys. Since making his debut for the Lions in 2008, Geldenhuys has become a regular member of the forward pack and he adds some muscle to a unit that was often on the back foot this year.

"We are very excited to have re-signed Doppies and Ross. Doppies has been a part of the Lions family for many years, and we are honoured to have a player of such quality and talent. Ross has been with us for just over two years," Reyneke said.

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