Stormers officials have often come under fire for letting talented youngsters slip through the cracks, who then become superstars at other unions.
Stephan Greeff, having worked his way through the age-group ranks in Cape Town, became disillusioned with the lack of game time at senior level and packed his bags to join the Lions this year.
Other than Greeff, the youngsters who left Cape Town in the past 18 months include Jurgen Visser (to the Bulls), Johann Sadie (Bulls), JJ Engelbrecht (Bulls), Lionel Cronje (Bulls), Tim Whitehead ( Sharks), Conrad Hoffman (Sharks), Martin Muller (Griquas/Cheetahs), Lourens Adriaanse (Griquas) and Callie Visagie (Lions).
The Stormers - having seen Adriaan Fondse (to the Newcastle Falcons) and Anton van Zyl (Stade Français) depart in the past year - list Andries Bekker, Rynhardt Elstadt, Eben Etzebeth, Hilton Lobberts, Quinn Roux and De Kock Steenkamp as their current second row stocks.
Now Greeff - who travelled to Witbank last year as a potential WP bench player for the match against the Pumas, but never saw any Currie Cup action - hopes to prove to the brains trust in the Western Cape just how wrong they were.
He is determined to use the opportunities he will be afforded in Johannesburg.
"I felt I was wasting my time at Western Province," he told this website.
He first crossed paths with Lions forwards coach Johan Ackermann at the Hamiltons club in Cape Town, when the latter still trotted out in the odd game, and Greeff decided to call him up when he became disillusioned. That conversion facilitated the lock's move to Gauteng.
"I am happy with the decision," the 22-year-old second row forward said, adding that he hopes to follow the same route as another Stellenbosch University.
export - the Lions' Currie Cup-winning captain Joshua Strauss.
Greeff described the Lions' set-up as "very professional" and said the team spirit is "great".
"I am looking forward to playing here and will use the opportunity," he said the prospect of playing Super Rugby.
He dismissed the suggestion that the step up from the Varsity Cup and Vodacom Cup (where he made a number of appearances for WP) might be too daunting.
"I feel I have been preparing for this for long enough now," he said, adding: "From the age of 20 up everybody are so well conditioned, so I don't see it as that much of a difference.
"I have been waiting for a long time for this opportunity and I am certainly going to use it."
And there is the added value of learning from seasoned players like Wikus van Heerden (a World Cup-winning Springbok), Franco van der Merwe (a Lions stalwart and former captain) as well as Hendrik Roodt, an Emerging Springbok who played Super Rugby for the Waratahs (2010) and Cheetahs (2011).
"I am learning a lot from them - especially Franco [van der Merwe], about the line-outs and the set pieces ... the way he leads," Greeff told this website.
"Even Hendrik Roodt, who has played quite a bit of rugby.
"They are all older than me, so I am using the opportunity to learn from them," he added.
Other than Van der Merwe, Roodt and Van Heerden, Greeff (who covers lock and No.7 flank) will compete with Michael Rhodes (who also covers flank and lock) and Pumas import Marius Coetzer for a place in the Lions' matchday squad.
"It is great to have such depth, because injuries can quickly decimate the team," was his philosophical view.
With a two-year contract at the Lions, Greeff is determined to get game time in the Super Rugby squad and secure himself a regular spot.
As for the Lions' goals, he felt that on the back of their Currie Cup triumph a play-off spot in Super Rugby is a "realistic goal".
By Jan de Koning
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