Following the departure of the majority of their stars over the last two seasons, the decision by seasoned Lions flyhalf Elton Jantjies to remain loyal to the union has provided a massive injection.
The 29-year-old Jantjies holds the record for the most Super Rugby matches in a Lions jumper, with 127 games, and he has scored 1 134 points.
Earlier in his career, he also played 13 matches for the Stormers, bringing his total Super Rugby caps to 140.
“Elton has really been amazing for the Lions the last couple of years,” said Lions assistant coach Philip Lemmer.
“We are just grateful that a guy like him has always opted to stay with the union.”
With the immediate future of Super Rugby still uncertain, Lemmer said Jantjies would become even more valuable to them.
“The union is excited about what lies ahead. There are great things that are lying ahead for us, and we’ll just continue to do what we do and the deeds will speak for themselves,” he said.
“Elton is without doubt still one of the hardest working players at the union, so we are really grateful to still have him around.”
Jantjies, who was just 20 when he made his Super Rugby debut in 2011, has also played 37 Bok Tests since 2012, scoring 281 points.
“I think the fact that (former Lions captain) Jaco Kriel is also back with us to provide more seniority will only strengthen Elton in his role,” Lemmer said.
“We are excited about Elton and blessed that he has that love and passion for the Lions to keep building the team on the road ahead.”
After the retirement of Warren Whiteley and the departures of Franco Mostert and Malcolm Marx, it seemed that Jantjies was destined to become Lions captain.
“Over the last year, because he took on the added role of captain, he grew even more in his leadership,” Lemmer said.
“Without any doubt he plays a crucial role for us. He is the ultimate professional in the manner in which he trains, in the way he analyses the game, and the way he motivates the guys around him.”