Viljoen has not yet been capped by the Proteas, despite taking 103 wickets in the last three seasons at a superb average of 23.95, and was considering overtures from the Central Districts franchise in New Zealand, the idea being to qualify for the Black Caps after four years and thereby open the door to a lucrative English county contract because he would then be an international player.
“I’m not going to New Zealand, I’ve decided to stay and work within the system here. My time with the Lions franchise has been very rewarding and I still need to do a lot more to get to where I want to be. Everything happens at the right time for the right reasons and God’s timing is perfect. I believe my future is here in South Africa and I’m very excited that I’m going to be with the Lions for another couple of years,” Viljoen told The Citizen on Thursday.
At 26, Viljoen is still relatively young and, as the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel cut back on their international commitments, he can surely expect a call-up to the national team in the next couple of years, having already played nine games, in both four-day and 50-over cricket, for representative A sides.
In the meantime, with Chris Morris having moved from the Lions to the Titans, Viljoen will be the leader of the Sunfoil Series champions’ attack.
“We are absolutely delighted that Hardus has signed a two-year contract [the maximum allowed] because not having Chris is a big loss. Hardus is experienced, so it’s a comforting feeling having him and Kagiso Rabada is coming through strongly as well,” Lions CEO Greg Fredericks said.
The Lions have given new contracts to pace bowlers Sean Jamison and Nono Pongolo, who burst on to the scene last season with 43 wickets at 16.30 for the Gauteng team.