Herald Live: Cronje up for leading Kings

By George Byron (25/01/2017)

Flyhalf one of several contenders for skipper

Experienced flyhalf Lionel Cronje has thrown his hat into the ring as a candidate to lead the Southern Kings in Super Rugby. After last season’s inspirational skipper Steven Sykes upped sticks and moved to France to play for Oyonnax, the Kings will have to find a new leader.

Apart from Cronje, other contenders could be Schalk Ferreira and Ricky Schroeder, who have both held leadership roles in the past.

Kings head coach Deon Davids said his team had many leaders in various departments.

“We are still identifying leaders and have identified leaders for different aspects of the game.

“We have unit leaders, leaders who run the team attack and defence, and leaders who look at the team’s off-field operations.

“[From among them], we will decide who will lead the team for the year.”

Cronje, who is back in the game after a nine-month break, is one of the players Davids must be considering for a leadership role.

“I am comfortable to take a leadership role and I view myself as a leader, especially playing flyhalf where it has to be part of your anatomy.

“It has to be part of who you are to lead the team,” Cronje said.

“I am the sort of person who really enjoys working with the youngsters.

“We have Garrick Mattheus coming through and also Coyi Banda from Border.

“It is a great opportunity for those guys and I am excited with what we have.

“In my position I can mentor the guys and give advice.

“We have a tight group at No 10.

“Pieter Steyn de Wet is also there from the Cheetahs, so I am looking forward to it and I enjoy the responsibility.

The former Sharks flyhalf said competition for berths in the starting lineup to play the Jaguares on February 25 would be fierce.

“The nice thing about a set-up like the one here is that everyone will have a chance to be in the starting lineup.

“It gives everyone an openmindedness to work hard.

“If you put in the effort and have good warm-up games, you [will] stand a chance of winning.

“In the teams I have played for in the past you [will always] find a fat prop, a nuggety scrumhalf or a hooker who is up in your face.

“All I can say is that everyone will have an equal chance of playing Super Rugby.

“It drives the guys in your position to work harder.

“As soon as you have that competitiveness, the success will come through.”

Cronje said he preferred to play a running game to a kicking one.

“I really enjoy the attack – that is where I get my energy from and where I play my best rugby.

“On attack I can express myself freely.

“Obviously, there will be times where we have to kick – that is also part of the game.

“The All Blacks are also conservative when they are in their 22.

“It is just the timing of when to kick, and that is what we have been working really hard on.

“We want to kick smart, learn when to run and when to kick, and also to see when there is an opportunity to attack.”