'The players are like race horses,' says Lions coach Johan Ackermann

20 July 2017 - 17:40 By Liam Del Carme
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South Africa ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann.
South Africa ‘A’ coach Johan Ackermann.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

“They didn't contest a single ruck‚” Lions assistant coach Swys de Bruin noted sagely about last week's clash the visitors won 27-10 in Durban.

De Bruin believes not much can be read into last week's contest.

The Sharks‚ he argues‚ will be a different beast at Ellis Park.

“I expect them to attack the breakdown with everything they've got and that they will attack our set piece.

“I don't think Robert (du Preez‚ the Sharks coach) wanted to show anything. We didn't want to show much either‚” said De Bruin tacitly‚ admitting that they too have bigger fish to fry.

If the Sharks were hiding their true colours‚ it doesn't seem to bother the Lions.

Coach Johan Ackermann is of the firm belief that their blue print‚ no matter what‚ will again be put to operational use.

“The players are like race horses‚” said Ackermann.

“They've been groomed and drilled to play in a certain way.

"If you challenge them to change that it will be unfair on them. I want them to play with freedom. That's where I trust Jaco (Kriel) to make the right decisions‚” said Ackermann.

They have a full throttle approach which is likely to test any visiting team‚ especially in a game with a 2.30pm kick-off.

The hosts have the added advantage of having progressed to last year's final. They are more accustomed to walking the play-off tightrope.

“Hopefully the guys will understand the pressures that goes with a play-off‚” said Ackermann.

“You get one shot at it. If you don't do things well you're out.

"The knowledge that all the work that you've put in over the months could come to nothing. We have to tap into that experience when we need to.”

The Lions have named an unchanged squad from the one that won last weekend. They opted to leave Rohan Janse van Rensburg on the bench.

“Rohan is a Springbok and a fine player‚” said De Bruin.

“He was injured. Harold is on form and is equally good.

"It doesn't matter who starts‚ this is just a natural process. Rohan will come off the bench‚ something he does very well.

"In a game like this it will perhaps take a while before a winner becomes apparent and a player like him can make a difference.”

Ackermann is aware that the game could potentially be his last game before he takes up a contract with Gloucester.

Defeat is a prospect too ghastly to contemplate.

“I don't think I get the time to think about it‚” said Ackermann.

“There is so much happening.

"Obviously it is in the back of my mind but I don't share it with the players because I don't want to transfer more pressure. It's not about me but about them.”

Captain Jaco Kriel was asked if Ackermann's departure provided added motivation.

“I think we must lock coach up anyway‚” he chuckled.

“We are going to miss him.

"There is no time to think about it. It's in the back of the mind. We want to make him proud. We have a massive amount of respect for coach. He is one amazing coach and we are going to miss him‚” said Kriel.

The Lions team is – Andries Coetzee; Ruan Combrinck‚ Lionel Mapoe‚ Harold Vorster‚ Courtnall Skosan; Elton Jantjies‚ Ross Cronjé; Ruan Ackermann‚ Kwagga Smith‚ Jaco Kriel (captain); Franco Mostert‚ Andries Ferreira; Ruan Dreyer‚ Malcolm Marx‚ Jacques van Rooyen.

Subsitutes: Armand van der Merwe‚ Corné Fourie‚ Johannes Jonker‚ Lourens Erasmus‚ Cyle Brink; Faf de Klerk‚ Rohan Janse van Rensburg‚ Sylvian Mahuza

- TimesLIVE

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