Lions target Butch, Jean
Butch James (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg – The Golden Lions have earmarked 2007 World Cup winners Butch James and Jean de Villiers as potential signings.
Both players are apparently considering joining the union and they are not the only ones that the Lions are targeting.
While the union does not want to confirm or deny the negotiations, GLRU president Kevin de Klerk said that they were speaking to sponsors that can help lure high-profile players.
Springbok captain John Smit apparently spoke to Lions director of coaching Dick Muir earlier this year about a possible joint role of player and forwards coach. There is also speculation linking Smit’s Sharks team-mates Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis to the union.
It is believed that their contracts state that both players have to be accommodated.
Springbok No 8 Joe van Niekerk is also being linked to the union.
De Klerk said that the Lions would have to strengthen their playing and coaching ranks to be able to compete with the Super 14 heavyweights.
“We can’t name anyone, but we are at an advanced stage of negotiations. Some of the players will already be available for the Currie Cup and others at the end of the year.”
Muir regularly worked with De Villiers as Springbok backline coach, while he has close ties with James from his Sharks days.
De Villiers has had a successful spell with Munster in Ireland, while James is playing well for Bath in England.
James last week criticised the poor manner in which the Sharks allegedly negotiated to get him back to South Africa.
He has nevertheless previously said that he will not easily play for any other team than the Sharks.
De Villiers has decided not to extend his contract with Munster and will return to South Africa shortly. He recently said that it would be difficult to play for any other teams than Western Province and the Stormers.
However, if the Lions make a very good offer, De Villiers may well play for them as soon as the Currie Cup.