It is good to know that we have got another youngster who wants to join the Lions
The Lions have responded to the exodus of players from Johannesburg by signing Bulls flank Warwick Tecklenburg on a two-year contract.
The 25-year-old, who joined the Bulls straight after school in 2008, has become the first player to sign for the Lions since they lost their Super Rugby status and coach Johan Ackermann told this website that the move is an encouraging one for the Currie Cup champions.
"It is good to know that we have got another youngster who wants to join the Lions. I think he has got a great future and a good willingness to learn and heart," he said.
Tecklenburg has starred for Tuks in the Varsity Cup for the last few years and broke into the Blue Bulls Currie Cup outfit last year and Ackermann said that he is looking forward to working with a promising talent next year.
"At the end of the day if the player is there and willing to learn and wants to play rugby then you can work with him. So hopefully next year we will have a player that will make major strides in his rugby career," he said.
The Johannesburg side have lost a steady stream of promising players such as Baby boks Paul Willemse (Bulls) and Ruan Botha (Western Province) as well as established campaigners Josh Strauss (Glasgow Warriors) and Jacobie Adriaanse (Scarlets) to overseas clubs since losing their Super Rugby status, so the signing of Tecklenburg will come as a timely boost.
Although Ackermann's hopes of getting one of Pat Cilliers or CJ van der Linde back from the Bok camp this week have been dashed, he is hopeful that Jacobie Adriaanse will recover from his groin injury in time to take on the Griquas in Kimberley.
The Lions coach explained that his request to get one of his props back was turned down by Springbok management, which means that captain JC Janse van Rensburg may have to fill in for Adriaanse at tighthead should the need arise.
"At this stage it is a no, so unless they change their minds I don't think we will see CJ or Pat back," he said.
Adriaanse pulled out of the clash with Western Province at Newlands last week at the last minute and was replaced in the starting line-up by Ruan Dreyer, but the young tighthead pulled a calf muscle in the first half and has been ruled out of action for six weeks, which leaves Janse van Rensburg as the remaining back-up in the position.
"We are quite confident that he [Adriaanse] will be ready for the weekend so we are going to give him as much time as possible and we are not going to push him but we obviously need to see if we can get him to start on the weekend.
"He has got a bit of an abductor injury in his groin, he has played with it for the last few weeks and then last week it got worse so we decided to get it settled," said Ackermann.
The Lions coach was full of praise for Dreyer who showed up well before limping off at half-time at Newlands.
"He is doing very well and I think he would have just got better as the game went on, he actually hurt his calf quite early in the game and credit to the guy for how he fought through the pain and pushed until half-time.
"Although he tore his calf muscle he played through the pain and if you think that he scrummed with that I think it is quite exceptional.
The only other injury concern for the Lions is over scrumhalf Michael Bondesio, and Ackermann said that they would adpot a cautious approach to ensure that he does not break down completely.
"We are a bit concerned about Michael Bondesio, he went off with a calf injury and we will give him up until Friday to recover, but looking ahead to the semifinals we don't want to risk him if he doesn't get through the week and he is not comfortable," he said.
By Michael de Vries