Lions move to sign stars

    2013-08-05 10:09
    Franco van der Merwe (Gallo Images)
    Cape Town - With their Super Rugby status now confirmed, the Lions are eager to pen deals with some of their star players.

    The Lions will return to Super Rugby next year after scraping past the Kings in a two-game promotion-relegation series. They edged their foes from Port Elizabeth by a mere two points over the two legs, having won the first match in PE 26-19 and then losing 23-18 at Ellis Park over the weekend.

    This uncertainty regarding their status meant the Lions were not in a position to negotiate deals with top players as they couldn't guarantee them Super Rugby.

    Therefore, the Lions are now eager to get the ball rolling in the hope of putting a competitive team on the field next season.

    In an interview with the SportLIVE website, coach Johan Ackermann said they are especially eager to retain the services of flyhalf Elton Jantjies and lock Franco van der Merwe.

    "We're going straight into negotiations with senior players this week.

    "We couldn't commit to the players until we knew the outcome of these two games against the Kings.

    "We had a plan B in place in case we didn't earn promotion, which was to focus on... our junior structures, but now we can start speaking to players such as Franco van der Merwe and Elton Jantjies.

    "Obviously their agents have been negotiating with other unions, so we need to move quickly if we want to retain their services.

    "The floor for negotiation is now open, and in Elton's case it's up to him to decide where he wants to play, said Ackermann.

    Jantjies was loaned to the Stormers while Van der Merwe spent time at the Sharks during this year's Super Rugby competition.

    The Lions will also be eager to hold onto key players such as flanks Derick Minnie and Jaco Kriel, wing/centre Lionel Mapoe and hooker Martin Bezuidenhout.

    Will the Lions fare better or worse in 2014 than the Kings did in 2013? Send your thoughts to Sport24 to get published!

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