The Lions look set to announce the departure of their Springbok scrumhalf Faf de Klerk on Thursday and one other player at the completion of the 2017 Super Rugby competition.
Although De Klerk is contracted with the Lions until the end of the 2018 season‚ he has reportedly been offered a three-year R21m contract to join English club Sale Sharks.
While the Lions were recently touring Australia‚ their management expressed the wish that De Klerk would honour his contract with the team.
De Klerk was not included in Allister Coetzee’s extended Springbok training group in 2017 and may feel he needs to make a high-profile transition to the northern hemisphere while his marketability allows it.
De Klerk featured in Coetzee’s team in 2016‚ but his time in the green and gold was not as effective as it was for the Lions in the 2016 Super Rugby. De Klerk is yet to reach those levels this season.
Asked to comment on De Klerk’s future‚ Lions CE Rudolf Straeuli on Wednesday said: "I will make an announcement at the team announcement media conference [on Thursday].
"Maybe I will be in a situation to comment wider than just Faf. I anticipate maybe one other player will leave, but the rest have been secured."
That includes highly rated Springbok hooker Malcolm Marx‚ although he is yet to put pen to paper.
Marx should also be in possession of a Springbok contract‚ which augments his earnings at the Lions.
After the team returned from their successful tour of Australia‚ where they won all three matches‚ Straeuli has been tying up loose ends this week.
The CE will have done well with the team’s retention policy if they lose only two of their in-demand players for next season.
His team went to the 2016 Super Rugby final and several players were elevated to the Springboks squad.
So far in 2017 the Lions have lost just one match and given the interest shown from the northern hemisphere‚ they would do well to retain the core of their squad.
Straeuli will hope this week’s contract negotiations do not prove a distraction leading up to Saturday’s Super Rugby clash against the Bulls at Ellis Park (5.15pm kick-off).