De Jager must choose move to Lions

Date published: July 4 2016

Money talks, of course, but when it comes to choosing whether his future lies with the Lions or Bulls then for Lood de Jager one option is clearly better than the other.

The Lions under Johan Ackermann are currently the best side in South Africa.

Not only that, but they hold the joint-best record in Super Rugby this year with ten wins and three defeats, tied with the Chiefs and Crusaders. Ahead of the final two rounds, they sit as the number one seed for the play-offs.

Add to that the number of Lions players selected by the Springboks and South Africa ‘A’ last month – twelve in total, nine for the series against Ireland.

Joining the Lions would see De Jager add more class to an already impressive pack of forwards featuring a blend of up-and-coming internationals, such as Warren Whiteley and Jaco Kriel, along with younger talents like Malcolm Marx and Franco Mostert.

Mostert in fact might sway De Jager’s decision. According to newly-promoted Lyon, Mostert has been signed and is off to the Top 14 next season. But the word from the Lions isn’t so concrete.

Say that Mostert ends up staying in Johannesburg, his combination with De Jager could elevate the Lions’ second row onto another level in the same way as Pieter-Steph du Toit’s move to Cape Town has given the Stormers an outstanding pairing putting him alongside Eben Etzebeth.

A De Jager-Mostert second row backing up Marx and Julien Redelinghuys, not forgetting Armand van der Merwe, with Kriel, Warwick Tecklenburg, Whiteley and Ruan Ackermann in the back row all together makes a first-rate pack.

Positives reasons for opting to go to Loftus instead aren’t hard to find – a reunion with Adriaan Strauss, immediately becoming the senior voice in a young side – but they’re well outweighed by the Lions’ prospects over the next few years with Johan Ackermann at the helm.

Joining the Lions feels like the right fit for the 23-year-old with 20 Test caps who dominated last year’s Rugby World Cup.

But it’s worth adding that┬áDe Jager is now expected to repeat that level of greatness consistently throughout the rest of his career. Johannesburg seems like the right place to do that in 2017 and beyond.

by Ben Coles