Lions to pick teenage lock?
Paul Willemse (Gallo Images)
Cape Town - The Lions' recent lineout woes could prompt coach John Mitchell to utilise the services of young 19-year-old junior Springbok Paul Willemse.
The Beeld newspaper reports that Mitchell might call on Willemse's services as they prepare to face the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday.
Willemse could become the sixth lock in five games to represent the Lions this year after injuries and poor form put a spanner in the works in this department.
Mitchell was furious after their lineout fell to pieces in the second half against the Crusaders last week. They ended up losing 23-13 after leading 13-10 at the break.
"It is obvious to everyone that our lineouts aren't working as well as they should at the moment. Not delivering a lineout is unacceptable," Mitchell said after the game.
Franco van der Merwe is the only lock who has played in all their games this season, with Wikus van Heerden, Hendrik Roodt, Stephan Greeff and Marius Coetzer being his partners thus far.
Mitchell is excited about the young Willemse's prospects for the future. The former pupil form Monument High School in Krugersdorp has been playing for the Golden Lions' Vodacom Cup team this year. He stands 1,99m tall and weighs a staggering 135kg.
With Mitchell putting so much emphasis on the fitness of his players, Willemse's weight might count against him though and to just expect him to come up to Super Rugby level might be too big an ask at present.
But if he can step up in a similar way to what youngsters like Andries Coetzee (utility back) and Caylib Oosthuizen (prop) and Tian Meyer (scrumhalf) have done, it will be a step forward for the men from Johannesburg.