Johannesburg - Three Golden Lions players have confirmed their moves to other South African franchises for next year's Super Rugby season.
Lock Franco van der Merwe was going out on loan to the Sharks for the 2013 competition, the Lions announced on Wednesday, while prop Pat Cilliers and flanker Michael Rhodes had penned permanent deals with the Stormers.
Acting Lions CEO Ruben Moggee said the destinations of newly anointed Springboks Elton Jantjies and Jaco Taute was still under discussion.
"The rest is speculation and nothing is finalised," Moggee said.
He added that it was important for loan agreements to be water tight contractually and that players on loan needed to play meaningful roles at their new teams to ensure they came back with Super Rugby experience.
"It doesn't help to plan January to June," he said.
"The end game of 2014 and 2015 is front of mind... we try and be practical and sit with the players."
The Lions have lost their place to the Southern Kings in next year's Super Rugby competition, but Moggee said the Johannesburg franchise would not be averse to selling players to the Eastern Cape outfit.
"The rugby ball isn't round, so you never know what will happen," he said.
Any players on loan at other franchises would return to the Lions for the promotion-relegation match next year, irrespective of where their new teams were based.
The number of players to be loaned out had not been specified, as it depended on how much depth was available for each position.
"We've not put an embargo to loan out five players (as an example), and that is where it is," Moggee said.
"It is a fine balance... we need to work on a principle that players want to play here."
The Johannesburg-based franchise were looking to set up matches against opponents better than Vodacom Cup standard, according to Moggee, while the Super Rugby season was underway.
Meanwhile, the Lions said Derek Minnie and Willie Britz had signed new contracts which would keep them with the team till 2014.