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Rugby | Vodacom Super Rugby

Ross Cronje © Gallo Images

Cronje commits to Lions for two more years

Despite constant media reports of a player exodus, Springbok scrumhalf Ross Cronje has committed himself to the Emirates Lions for the next two years and loves it so much in Johannesburg that he hasn’t even thought of signing elsewhere.

Cronje announced his new two year deal with the union that made him a Springbok ahead of the team’s final home game at Emirates Airline Park against the Vodacom Bulls, and is looking forward to the challenge of helping his team into the playoff rounds of this year’s Vodacom Super Rugby tournament.

Cronje said there were so many things keeping him in Johannesburg it was a no-brainer to sign a new two year deal with the union.

“I’m actually not going overseas. I’ve signed for another two years for the Lions. I absolutely love it here, my family is here and the bush is around the corner,” he said.

“The beaches are an hour’s flight away and the sun is out all day every day so I love it.”

Cronje said the news of his teammates, most notably Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert, Ruan Dreyer and Rohan Janse van Rensburg who had signed for other teams was regrettable, but understood their motivation for heading abroad. However, he had committed himself to staying in South Africa.

“Obviously going overseas, a rugby career is so long and you have to make the most of it. However if you still have a dream of playing in a World Cup or performing at the highest level against the best, then obviously you want to be here and competing in Super Rugby which I believe only improves your game and is one of the hardest competitions in the world. But ja, look you also have to think about your family one day and worry about your future. It sets you up for life one day after rugby, but at the same time if you are smart it sets you up here and you can play professional rugby here.”

Cronje said he still harbours a desire to get back into the national team, but all he could do is control his own game and give himself the best chance of impressing Springbok coach Rassie Erasmus.

“Definitely. If there wasn’t that motivation, every single player would be going overseas. You always want to play for the Springboks, you want to play at the top level and you want to play against the best, so ja there is always that motivation and drive. If it happens, great, if it doesn’t you can only control what you can control,” he added.

While a number of teammates were leaving, Cronje said many of them had admitted they didn’t want to go, but the financial lure was too great.

“Well look, everybody wants to be here at the Lions. I’m not sure about guys at other unions but you ask any guy that is leaving here, there is a sad pill that they have to swallow. I think a lot of guys who are leaving are doing it purely for their families, otherwise everybody would stay here at the Lions.”

Still, the amount of depth among young talent at the union has impressed him thus far, and Cronje believes that coach Swys de Bruin is in a strong position in terms of picking a strong team every weekend.

“I think we have amazing depth here at the Lions and there have been quite a couple of injuries this year but there have been guys who have slotted in and stuck up their hand. The guys who have got the opportunity are creating a good position for coach Swys to worry about picking a team every weekend. It’s a great problem to have.”

The Lions need to beat the Bulls this weekend to ensure they go top of the South African conference. If they lose they could end up seventh and have to face most of the playoff rounds away from their Johannesburg base.


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