CAPE TOWN – What will EW Viljoen bring to the Lions?
Last year, the 25-year-old utility back headed to Leicester in England but left amid the coronavirus pandemic and played only a few matches due to injury.
Recently he became one of a number of players to sign for the Lions, along with fullback Divan Rossouw from the Bulls, wing Rabz Maxwane (Cheetahs), prop Ruan Dreyer (Gloucester) and centre Burger Odendaal (Bulls).
Now, in what capacity he will do duty for the Lions, or even how he will go once the domestic competition kicks off, remains to be seen.
But if his past in the Cape is anything to go by, he sure is worth a little bit of focus come next weekend.
Viljoen, who represented South Africa at schoolboy and Under-20 levels, made just short of 30 appearances for the Stormers since his debut in 2017.
And while he didn’t make headlines with every performance he produced while with then-mentor Robbie Fleck’s team, what he did in his first season in the blue and white spoke volumes.
When he burst onto the scene, there were “future Springbok” talks fairly early. And perhaps those talks, the product of much early excitement he delivered, weren’t without valid reason.
His power, his fend, his solid tackling, his defensive ability, especially in the wider channels, and his skills when it came to organising the Stormers’ backline defence were superb. Then there were also those running lines and that ball carrying, and his size was but a bonus. And how about those hands… those hands that produced offloads that at one stage had us getting excited over the prospect of having an SBW kind of distributor of our own?
The fact that he was no slouch when it came to his work rate also helped a bunch.
He was an absolute cracker in his opening season, and we are yet to see him produce the same kind of thrilling performances consecutively on South African soil.
But who knows, he might just find his feet at the Lions, and what better time to come out on a mission post rugby drought?