Lions to sign Bok prop CJ
Hendrik Cronjé and Pieter Jordaan
CJ van der Linde (Gallo Images)
Bloemfontein and Johannesburg - Utility prop CJ van der Linde received a double boost this week.
On Tuesday he was unexpectedly included on the Springboks' substitutes bench
for Saturday's Tri-Nations Test against Australia - and he has apparently signed for the Golden Lions.
The 30-year-old tighthead prop’s agent, Stephan Weyers, confirmed a query by Sport24 that Van der Linde may be looking for a new rugby home at the Lions.
Weyers also confirmed that Van der Linde had been released from his contract with WP.
Sport24 understands that Van der Linde may be a Lions player from as early as 1 August. An announcement that he will play for the Lions until the end of 2013 is expected shortly.
Van der Linde missed a large chunk of this year's Super Rugby tournament due to a groin injury, but the departure of such an experienced player is still a setback for WP and the Stormers, who have mostly relied on Brok Harris this year.
However, Lions supporters will welcome the move as they have tried without success on a number of occasions to sign a quality tighthead prop in the mould of Jannie du Plessis.
Pat Cilliers, a tighthead prop who previously joined from the Sharks, is now being used as a loosehead by the Lions.
It will be a bonus for the Lions if Van der Linde is released for Currie Cup duty after the Boks' Tri-Nations tour.
Meanwhile, the Lions believe that their tough assignment against the Pumas has steeled them for a similar onslaught from Griquas in Kimberley on Saturday.
Lions coach John Mitchell is not too concerned about his team struggling to see off the Pumas at the weekend.
"I don't know whether it was rustiness, but I honestly don't care. This week's game against Griquas is more important. Griquas are a good side and just about have a Super Rugby backline," said Mitchell.
"Our performance against the Pumas was just about good enough for us to win. At the end of the day winning is everything - it's irrelevant how you do it.
"The Wallabies lost to Samoa against all expectations at the weekend. That kind of thing happens."