Burton Francis parted ways with the Lions at the the end of the season and has subsequently joined the Stormers for pre-season training in a bid to secure a contract with the Cape side.
The 24-year-old former Bulls pivot who hails from Paarl found himself third in the Lions' flyhalf pecking order at the end of the Currie Cup season after Butch James returned from World Cup duty to replace him as first-choice playmaker Elton Jantjies' deputy and has since found himself surplus to requirements in Johannesburg.
Francis was spotted training with the Stormers on Monday and coach Allister Coetzee confirmed to this website that he is attempting to secure a contract with the winners of the South African Super Rugby conference.
"He [Francis] has not signed with us yet. He is looking for an opportunity and the challenge for him is to make our Super Rugby squad," Coetzee explained.
The Stormers found themselves scraping the barrel of their flyhalf depth this year as one player after another succumbed to injury, forcing them to utilise young players such as Kurt Coleman (and later Demetri Catrakilis in the Currie Cup) and forcing them to bring in Earl Rose from the Griquas.
With Peter Grant, Gary van Aswegen and Coleman all injured in the course of the Super Rugby season the Stormers went into their home semifinal against the Crusaders with former SA Under-20 star Lionel Cronje, himself only recently back from injury, at flyhalf.
Cronje has since moved on to the Bulls, so it would appear that Francis will have to prove that he is a better bet than one of Van Aswegen, Catrakilis or Coleman to secure a spot in the Stormers squad.
Another contender will be Boland's Elgar Watts who impressed in the provincial first division this year, but he has recently undergone shoulder surgery and will only be available in early February.
Grant will return from his second stint in Japan early in the season and is expected to reclaim the No.10 jersey when he gets back but there is sure to be a fierce fight over who exactly will back him up before he returns.
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