Lions roar at loose forward
Derick Minnie (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - There is fierce competition for the Lions' loose forward positions as they prepare for their first Super Rugby clash against the Cheetahs on February 25.
Captain Josh Strauss and flanks Derick Minnie and Michael Rhodes should be the favourites to for the first game against the Cheetahs in Johannesburg, but there are also other candidates that could force their way into the starting line-up.
Former captain, Cobus "Baywatch" Grobbelaar and eightman Warren Whiteley are quality players, while Pumas eightman Doppies le Roux is also in contention.
Strauss, Minnie and Rhodes were the Golden Lions' loose-trio in the Currie Cup final last year when they demolished the Sharks at Coca-Cola Park. They complemented each other really well in that final.
Rhodes followed a rehabilitation programme in the off-season and couldn't practice at full tilt all the time.
Le Roux is one of the strongest ball-carriers in South African rugby and has impressed the Lions coaches thus far but a place in the starting XV might be a bridge too far.
"Doppies is very strong and he's learning a lot here with us. I first want to see his defence improve because we do it quite differently from where he comes from," said head coach John Mitchell.
"But the competition is tough with Minnie, Whiteley, Baywatch, Josh and now also Rhodes that being back."
Old Lions stalwart Wicus van Heerden is also an option even though Mitchell has mainly used him at lock over the last year or so.
The Lions will play their last warm-up match before the Super Rugby season starts against the Kings in George and Mitchell will be looking to pick close to his strongest XV.