The Lions’ status as conference frontrunners will come under threat this season as defections and a change in competition format are likely to pose uncomfortable questions. As much as they have proved to be one of the more exhilarating teams when in full cry on attack‚ the Lions have built their success around the sheer intensity they brought to different disciplines across the park. That has included a strong physical presence and consistency at the scrum and the breakdown. Their much vaunted tight five that boasted so much depth not so long ago‚ has been dramatically trimmed following Ruan Dreyer‚ Jacques van Rooyen‚ Corne Fourie and Franco Mostert’s departure. Add to that the injuries to prop Johannes Jonker and lock Lourens Erasmus and the Lions’ resources look thin in an area that demands bulk. Whether they still possess the unrelenting fire power to pummel their opponents into submission‚ is moot. It means much will rest on the young shoulders of on loan tighthead Carlu Sadie....

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