Best buy, biggest loss

Two more sleeps and it’s showtime as the 2019 Super Rugby season kicks off on Friday morning with the Chiefs hosting the Highlanders. It’s easy to make calls after the fact, so here’s the AOR team fearlessing declaring which off-season acquisition will add the most value to his new SA team, and which departed player will be most sorely missed.

Tank Lanning

Best buy: Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
Corne Fourie came close to topping both my lists – he is an incredibly under rated player who is already adding value in the Cape given the departures of JC Janse van Rensburg and Caylib Oosthuizen, but there can be only one when it comes to this category. The on-field contribution from the human “Thor” will be obvious, especially in being freed up to roam and smash by ball hawks Paul Schoeman, Roelof Smit, Ruan Steenkamp, Nick de Jager, and Marco van Staden. But it’s off the field where new head coach Pote Human will discover the true gold. They say you can’t buy experience, but the Bulls just have!

Biggest loss: Jacques van Rooyen (Lions)
Most transfer lists have Ruan Dreyer, Fourie and Van Rooyen as the props transferring out of Jozi, but in effect, they have also officially now also lost Julian Redelinghuys to his neck injury. And for a side so massively reliant on their scrum (despite the new rules insisting on a strike from the hooker – something not massive on the Ellis Park “to do” list), these are massive transfers out. Able to do a job at tighthead when the red and white were in strife on that side last year, Van Rooyen comes into his own at loosehead. Francois Louw will be loving that power at Bath, Warren Whiteley and Kwagga Smith less so without it in Jozi.

Zelím Nel

Best buy: Duane Vermeulen (Bulls)
There’s no competition in this category; the Bulls’ acquisition of Vermeulen is by far the biggest off-season addition in the SA Conference. Part of that has to do with the fact that we’re in an era of rugby in South Africa when free agency news is dominated by international departures, but Vermeulen is a marquee player who would have been on the shortlist for Best Buy status even if most of our top talent wasn’t currently bracing against a European winter.

The Bulls really hit a home run by signing Vermeulen because, aside from the significant value he will add as a gainline guardian, and an authentic voice in the shed, he will fortify a coaching team lacking in experience and therefore confidence.

Vermeulen was the de facto defence coach when he led the Stormers in 2015. The Cape side won 10 matches and the SA Conference title, and only three sides conceded fewer points.

Biggest loss: Franco Mostert
If you window-shopped at the Lions over the past couple of seasons you would have seen freshly-baked attack and juicy tries that led to the Test debuts of finishers such as Aphiwe Dyantyi and Ruan Combrinck. What you may not have seen was the sweaty bloke in the backroom kneading the dough at the heart of the Lions product.

In 2018, Franco Mostert led Super Rugby for minutes played, and lineouts won and stolen, and he ranked among the top five for ball carries and tackles. An undersized, athletic lock, Mostert’s industrial-grade work rate was the biggest cog in a Lions machine built on outworking opponents through superior conditioning.

A host of players have left Doornfontein, and while Mostert may not be among the flashiest of those departures, he will be the one Swys de Bruin misses most.

You’ve read what they think, now let us know where you stand in The Big Debate!

- Big Debate

Let's chat

  • boyo

    Not much debate here then because Both Van Rooyen and Mostert are equally big losses and Duane is clearly the best buy.

    Not on par with Van Rooyen or Mostert loss but also flying under the radar was Adrian Struass retiring from the bulls. He is a good dependable hooker and It remains to be seen whether a 38 year old Britz can offer the same value.

    • Barry

      Britz is already injured – I think tripped over his zimmer frame! It’ll take a while to recover at that age!

      • Herman Schroder?

        Good one, lol. Cheers.

      • Rudolph

        Is he not starting on Saturday?

        • Greg Shark

          he did start and stopped after 10 or minutes….

        • Johan

          Very funny and all, but Brits’ experience will add massive value:

          15 Warrick Gelant 14 Johnny Kotze 13 Jessie Kriel 12 Burger Odendaal 11 Rosko Specman 10 Handré Pollard 9 Embrose Papier 8 Duane Vermeulen 7 Hanro Liebenberg 6 Ruan Steenkamp 5 Lood de Jager (captain) 4 Jason Jenkins 3 Trevor Nyakane 2 Schalk Brits 1 Lizo Gqoboka.

    • Chris Mouton

      Can’t disagree with you there.

  • Barry

    I would tend to go with both selections. Thor is a not much of a debate, but the losses in Jozzie will have a significant affect on the Lions scrum. We always hear about the Lions expansive game, but it all started from a very sound set piece, perhaps less so this year!

    If I might deviate slightly and suggest that one of the most significant losses on the coaching front will be Dick Muir as the Sharks attack coach. He’s been around the block two or three times and is by far the most experienced SA Coach on the SR circuit. Watch this space!

    On the other end of the coin, I’d say the inclusion of John Dobson in the Stormers set up (or rather more actively than previous) is probably the best move in!

    • Greg Shark

      judging by the sharks destruction of sunwolves maybe Dickie is not such a big loss? Dick was rugby coach at a Durban school (alma mater) and they did jack schitt in all the time he was there…..usually the coach is to blame or would it now be the school boy players?

    • Chris Mouton

      I agree regarding Dick Muir. Robert du Preez might just have killed their campaign. It remains to be seen. Dobson is involved with the Stormers? That’s good. We need the SA teams to perform this year and take some scalps. It makes a world of confidence in a World Cup year.

  • Wesley

    Best buy: My new Black & Decker 18V cordless power drill. This baby could drill through the heaviest of training sessions, even if Eddie Jones was head coach!

    Biggest loss: My wife, sitting on the other side of that wall….

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