Lionel's big chance

2011-04-29 07:38

Stephen Nell

Cape Town – Will Lionel Cronjé finally make his mark after a rollercoaster ride at Western Province?

The 22-year-old has not yet realised his potential following the decision to leave Bloemfontein for the Cape in 2010.

However, the Stormers’ hopes are now pinned on him after both Peter Grant and Gary van Aswegen suffered injuries.

Cronjé got more than an hour’s game time in the Stormers’ last Super Rugby match – a 33-19 win over the Lions in Johannesburg – after Van Aswegen had to leave the field with a knee injury.

He did a few good things on attack and clearly has an educated boot. At the same time his unforced errors – he twice kicked the ball directly into touch from kick-offs – is a source of concern.

Cronjé was used a few times as fullback in WP’s Vodacom Cup team this year, while the Stormers preferred Van Aswegen as back-up to Grant.

It is a fact that the Stormers’ brains trust are mostly accurate in their judgement on players, but in the case of Cronjé it’s debatable whether they have really managed to make full use of his talent.

Cronjé, after all, was named South Africa’s under-20 player of the year at the end of 2009 after the Baby Boks had won the bronze medal at the Junior World Championships in Japan.

He was then signed up with great fanfare by WP together with senior Springboks such as Bryan Habana and Jaque Fourie.

Cronjé was on the Stormers’ substitutes bench for their first five games last year, but was only sent on against the Lions and Highlanders for 10 and 8 minutes respectively.

His career at WP went into a downward spiral when he got involved in a fight after last year’s 37-13 win over the Hurricanes and was briefly in police custody.

The Stormers then suspended him for two weeks for breaching their code of conduct. Willem de Waal was then used off their bench and Cronjé did not play Super Rugby for the rest of the tournament.

Coetzee then also made the decision that De Waal’s boot would be a crucial component in his Currie Cup campaign. That meant that Cronjé only started once – against the Leopards at Newlands. He was used nine times as a substitute in the Currie Cup.

Van Aswegen was ever-present for the WP under-21 side and progressed to Grant’s understudy at the Stormers this year.

In contrast to WP’s management of Cronjé, the Sharks gave Patrick Lambie a baptism of fire at senior level last year. Lambie still played fullback for the SA under-20 side last season, but was a key player for the Sharks in the Currie Cup and started 10 games at flyhalf.

His highlight was the final against WP in which he scored 25 of the Sharks’ points in their 30-10 victory.

On Saturday, Lambie and Cronjé will face off at Newlands.

The Sharks star got substantially more opportunities from his coaching staff over the past year.

Even so, Cronjé could not have asked for a better opportunity to show that he has a future in the Cape. It’s time for him to serve WP a reminder why they contracted him in the first place.

Cronjé will also have to deal with the pressure of goalkicking. If he shows he’s up to it in this encounter, he will surely get the recognition that has thus far evaded him in the Cape.


  • Wehan - 2011-04-29 07:50

    Go Lionel my boytjie! dem!!!

  • RJ - 2011-04-29 07:54

    Storm SAAM, Sharks SUCK!!!!!

  • gooinat - 2011-04-29 07:59

    What worries me is that he has not had a lot of game time in this position this year,we all know he has loads of talent and this is he's oppertunity to prove himself,good luck for Saturday there boytjie,make us all proud.

      ZOLLAZAP - 2011-04-29 09:17

      What doesnt worry me is the fact that the Stormers will choke on saturday and the next games ,GO any team that play the Stormers!!!!!!!!!!

      gooinat - 2011-04-29 09:23

      Zollie,what does not worry me one bit is where the Bulls are currently laying on the log,whats the view from down there like looking up at the leaders.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-04-29 09:23

      Hope you had a great Easter 'holiday'. :) I have faith in Lionel, always have had. His Vodacom Cup stint at 15 did him no harm. Still a tough ask for the kid though....having played 15 the entire season, then 70 mins at 10 in the Lions game - but I'm keeping the faith with him! So much experience sorrounding him (I'm sure our loosies will protect him well) - think he'll be fine. If you meet the kid, he is fulllllllllllllllll of confidence (in bucket loads) - almost a casual arrogance with regard to his own talents, and that bodes well for him stepping up to the plate :) Heckuva nice kid, and I have massive faith in him. Cometh the hour, cometh the kid.

      ZOLLAZAP - 2011-04-29 09:30

      @gooinat na die naweek sal julle nie meer eerste op die log wees nie,en ja die Bulls sal miskien nie hierdie jaar bo op die log wees nie maar die Stormers sal weereens sonder n trofee hierdie jaar afsluit,ten minste weet die Bulls hoe dit voel om 3 keer n Supertrofee te lig ,11 jaar al probeer die papsaksuigende spannetjie en selfs n currie beker kon hulle nie wen nie so ek ondersteun die Bulls en nie n spul 11 jaar chokers nie

      gooinat - 2011-04-29 09:41

      @Saffa,morning,hope your holiday is/was great,I like this youngster and I really hope he does well,also to prove to critics and management he belongs in this league,time will only tell.

      Mike@CapeT - 2011-04-29 15:14

      He made a few blunders against the Lions. Overall, he impressed and I am sure the last game will have done wonders for him considering it was the first time this season that he has had real game time. It seems to me the Sharks may be a little too confident and too cocky and I like it that most pundits are tipping them to win.

      CliffBradley - 2011-04-30 08:25

      ZOLLAZAP: Jou simpele idioot , maar dit gese , jy is seker een van die slimmer bb ondersteuners , wys n mens net hoe dom hulle eintlik is , dis "HISTORY" soos hulle se, en soos ons slimmer mense van die Stormer ondersteuners groep is, is "History" in die verlede , nie soos die dom TSWANE klomp met hulle khaki hempde , horings en Blou Sierra's

  • Jack Sparrow - 2011-04-29 08:29

    The points machine to have in there should be Demetri Catrakilis - who kicked Ikeys to victory in the Varsity Cup. He is far and away the best kicker in the country with his stats - these cliff hangers in S15 require & demand a points machine - not a show pony.

      SAFFA-CAT - 2011-04-29 09:18

      He is playing in the Vodacom Cup team tomm (Dimitri), in their quarter final against the Sharks 15. John Dobson had to call him up due to Coleman and Cronje's absence. (Although Lionel has been the VC teams 15 their entire season) Lionel Cronje is pure class - not his fault the WP management stuffed him around.

  • Lloyd - 2011-04-29 08:38

    Go Sharks!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Factual Fred - 2011-04-29 08:55

      Dis reg Lloyd. Hou by twee woorde (niks meer nie) as jy in Engels skryf. Hou ook by eenlettergrepige woorde in Engels. Dit pas by jou rugby-insigte en verhoed dat jy jou naam krater maak soos in vorige bydraes.

      gooinat - 2011-04-29 09:04

      Fred,don't use such big words with Pink Lloyd,you making the boytjie very deurmekaar.

      ZOLLAZAP - 2011-04-29 09:12

      Lloyd ek stem Sharks moet hierdie spul papsaksuigers opdonner

      Guz - 2011-04-29 11:11

      I finally figured it out...thought Lloyd looked farmiliar, he is Riaan Crywagen!

      Lloyd - 2011-04-29 11:30

      Julle ouens se chirps is awesome. Waar kry julle dit?

  • Steyts - 2011-04-29 08:46

    I really do hope he does!! Then we have a big flyhalf again!! Demitri Catrikilis plays varsity cup for a reason, he is not good enough...

  • thumper - 2011-04-29 08:48

    Lionel has the raw talent needed to break this game wide open and he will unleash it on the Sharks and Lambie this weekend. Gooooo Stormers!!!!!!

      Rudy - 2011-04-29 15:50

      Totally agree with you but I just hope Ricky the Ninja Turtle does not come on in the 2nd half and screw up the game for Stormers.

  • ChrisG - 2011-04-29 09:04

    The 3rd choice Stormers flyhalf against one of the future best flyhalves in the world... there's no comparison here.

      RJ - 2011-04-29 10:04

      WANA BET

      ChrisG - 2011-04-29 12:59

      Already have... I called Sharks by 6 tomorrow.

      Rudy - 2011-04-29 13:23

      My money is on Lionel and Stormers by 7

  • Aldrich - 2011-04-29 09:07

    I saw this boy taking teams apart - Great on defence and attack - Looking foward to see him playing against Lambie

  • Rob van den Heuvel - 2011-04-29 12:06

    Don't be surprised if Peter Grant makes a sudden recovery and takes to the field tomorrow. Just saying...

      gooinat - 2011-04-29 12:30

      Rob,I was also hoping this was going to happen but ja there goes that hope out the window.

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