Ross Roche

By Ross Roche

Senior sports writer

Lions overcome Sharks’ sneaky player signing announcements

It was a surprise to see the Sharks make the player announcements in the build-up to the big derby against the Lions.

The Sharks pulled a fast one on the Lions ahead of their United Rugby Championship (URC) derby at Ellis Park over the past weekend, when they announced the signings of two major players from the Johannesburg side.

Flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse and loose forward Emmanuel Tshituka were both announced as marquee signings for the 2024-25 season last week, with them both heading down to Durban to link up with their brothers, Jaden and Vincent, respectively.

ALSO READ: Confirmed – Sharks sign Lions flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse

Vincent is also a former Lions product, having made the move to the Sharks in 2022, and is one of a number of players that have made the switch to Durban from Joburg in recent times, including powerhouse prop Carlu Sadie.

It was however a surprise to see the Sharks make the announcements in the build-up to the big derby between the two teams last week, and may have been a bit of a ploy to play some mind games ahead of the match at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Unbothered Lions

However, the Lions seemed unbothered as they cruised to an impressive 40-10 bonus point win, which sealed the double over their coastal rivals this season after they triumphed 20-18 during the first clash in Durban in early January.

After Saturday’s game Lions coach Ivan van Rooyen admitted that it was a surprise to see the announcements in the build-up, but explained that they had spoken to the players about it and got it out of the way before the match.

“We can’t get emotional about that. We also spoke about it to the team. Rugby is also a business and it happens. You never want to lose players, especially those types of players,” said Van Rooyen.

“They are guys with huge potential. They are great to have in the team room and just nice guys to be around. So obviously we are sad to lose them.

“It was interesting tactics (to announce the signings during the build-up to the derby). But we can’t let that influence us and we didn’t.”

It is still worrying for the Lions that they continue to lose their best players almost every season and they will need to work a lot harder in the future to retain their best talent if they want to challenge in various competitions.

But they will take a bit of satisfaction out of the past weekend’s win, especially after some sneaky antics from the Sharks.

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