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Emmanuel Tshituka drives the ball up for the Lions in the United Rugby Championship match against Zebre at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday. Picture: GORDON ARONS/GALLO IMAGES
Emmanuel Tshituka drives the ball up for the Lions in the United Rugby Championship match against Zebre at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday. Picture: GORDON ARONS/GALLO IMAGES

While the Lions’ list of contracted players until 2025 includes much sought-after flanker Ruan Venter, it does not include fellow backrower Emmanuel Tshituka, who looks set to join his brother Vincent at the Sharks.

Reuniting with his brother has long seemed to be on the cards for the strapping backrower, but he is not the only Lion to join a sibling at the Sharks.

Flyhalf Jordan Hendrikse — it was widely reported earlier in 2023 — will return to the coastal franchise and join brother and World Cup-winning Bok Jaden. His name is also missing from the Lions’ list.

The Hendrikse brothers played for Glenwood High School, and were members of the Sharks U-18 squad. Jordan is also affiliated to talent agency Roc Nation, which is joined at the hip to the Sharks.

The flyhalf renewed his contract with the Lions in 2021 but his career soon ground to a halt with a shoulder injury. He returned to the squad at the start of the United Rugby Championship in October when he started against the Stormers.

Sanele Nohamba, though, has started at flyhalf in the past three games for the Lions, and has looked at home in the position he occupied at school level. Nohamba made the trek in the other direction and has served the Lions well since his arrival.

The Lions also have Gianni Lombard waiting in the wings, but he has had significant injury setbacks.

Tshituka will be another addition to an ever-expanding Sharks squad. His versatility makes him a handy acquisition for the Durban team.

“I have enjoyed every position I have played in,” he said. “With the system we’ve got [at the Lions] it is not much of a difference whether you are playing six or eight. Maybe seven is a bit different. I probably enjoy playing blindside flanker but I’m happy to play six or eight.”

Tshituka is still part of a Lions team hoping to take the next step under coach Ivan van Rooyen. They showed encouraging signs on tour and their upward curve continued against Zebre last weekend.

“For us, it’s more of a thing of taking it week by week and not getting ahead of ourselves. We did well last week against Zebre. Our focus this week is to tackle the Dragons and execute our plan and what the coaches want from us,” said Tshituka.

“Once we do that and get the win, three, four, five weeks down the line you’ll realise you’ve won a few games in a row and you can take it from there.”

The Lions certainly have areas they need to improve if they want to exchange fire with the competition's top guns.

“We conceded three tries against Zebre that we didn’t have to. We gave it to them too easily. Our attack scored nine tries and that’s good, but we want to be good and world-class on both sides of the ball.

“We’ve got to clean up and be better defensively, we want to be a lot more resilient and competitive in our defence. That’s something we are working on tightening up for the Dragons.”

Lions’ contracted squad until the end of the 2024-2025 season:

Marius Louw, Asenathi Ntlabakanye, Edwill van der Merwe, Quan Horn, Sanele Nohamba, Rabz Maxwane, Reinhard Nothnagel, PJ Botha, Ruan Venter, Morné Brandon, Renzo du Plessis, Francke Horn, Morgan Naude, Morné van den Berg, Raynard Roets, Ruan Delport, Ruben Schoeman, Ruhan Straeuli, Rhynardt Rijnsburger, Manuel Rass


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