New coach Van Rooyen hoping to revive Golden Lions' fortunes

Johannesburg (AFP) –


Ivan van Rooyen was named coach of Super Rugby side the Golden Lions Wednesday and tasked with reviving the fortunes of the Johannesburg club.

The 37-year-old succeeds Swys de Bruin, a more experienced coach than Van Rooyen who quit this month after suffering a stress-related illness.

"We have the opportunity to create something very special. We have a young but dynamic team and a blank canvas," Van Rooyen said in a statement.

After reaching three consecutive finals of the southern hemisphere competition from 2016, the Lions lost eight of 16 matches this year and failed to qualify for the play-offs.

Factors that counted against the Lions included injuries and the loss of stars to European and Japanese clubs, whose salaries are much higher than those in South Africa.

Van Rooyen will have to do without two Springboks, hooker Malcolm Marx and loose forward Kwagga Smith, next season as they have signed short-term contracts with Japanese clubs.

Van Rooyen has risen through the ranks during 10 years at the Lions, starting as coach of age-limit teams and working as the conditioning coach before assisting De Bruin.

The Lions launch their 2020 Super Rugby campaign away to the Argentine Jaguares on February 1 followed by a home fixture against the Queensland Reds from Australia the following weekend.