Straeuli dismisses 'malicious' rumours

Thu, 06 Jul 2017 13:52

REACTION: The Lions have denied reports they are about to 'discard' one of their most successfully coaches. Jan de Koning reports.

Media reports suggested attack coach Swys de Bruin, one of the most celebrated members of the highly successful Lions coaching team, is heading to Cape Town - because he is no longer wanted in Johannesburg.

According to the report Cheetahs and Springbok attack coach Franco Smith has been earmarked to take over as Lions head coach from Johan Ackermann, who will head to English Premiership club Gloucester after the completion of the Super Rugby season.

Bok defence consultant Brendan Venter has also been linked to a permanent position at Ellis Park.

However, Rudolf Straeuli, CEO of Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd, dismissed the reports as "malicious rumour mongering" - suggesting an agent is behind the reports, in an attempt to drive up the market value of the coaches in question.

"I have been very clear, we are busy with a process," Straeuli told rugby365, when contacted about the latest coaching merry-go-round.

"We will be announcing a Currie Cup coach first," he said, adding: "It would be premature [to announce a coach] before we have heard the findings of SA Rugby [the South African Rugby Union] about Super Rugby for next year."

SARU will on Friday reveal the results of its own internal audit on the viability of the six current franchises and which two will get the axe.

However, it is generally accepted that the Cheetahs and Southern Kings are to be removed from Super Rugby and will join the Pro12 competition in Europe from September.

Straeuli said he doesn't believe the Lions are in danger of being culled, but will continue to follow the process that was set out after the departure of Ackermann was confirmed earlier this year.

"It starts with [the appointment of] our Currie Cup coach," Straeuli said, adding: "'[We will] look internally first and then we will look externally."

"Those names [Smith and Venter] are a rumour that has been created by somebody, perhaps an agent.

"The other guys are all still contracted.

"That is a [typical] move by an agent to increase the [market] value of those guys, Brendan [Venter] and Franco [Smith].

"It is malicious, because we are still busy talking to Swys [de Bruyn] and the other guys internally.

"It is not true and we are busy with a process.

"We will soon announce a Currie Cup coach and hopefully before September our Super Rugby coach."

By Jan de Koning

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