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Come roar for the Lions

31 July 2017 - 07:30 By Liam Del Carme
Coach Johan Ackermann.
Coach Johan Ackermann.
Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

Outgoing Lions coach Johan Ackermann wants to see a full Ellis Park when his side takes on the Crusaders in the Super Rugby final on Saturday.

The match will be Ackermann's swansong before he departs to coach English side Gloucester.

"I want to walk away having seen a full Ellis Park. You can't ask for better. To see 60000 people here would be the ultimate," said the coach after guiding his side to a second consecutive Super Rugby final with a 44-29 victory over the Hurricanes.

"It is something I always hoped for, that the day I finish here will be at home in front of our fans," said Ackermann.

He came close as a coach last year when they lost the final in Wellington, but the Lions' prospects of winning this time look a lot more promising. Hurricanes captain Dane Coles ran the rule over the advantages of home comforts in play-off matches.

"Being at home for the Lions is a big factor. They don't have to travel and they've got all this support at home.

"It's pretty huge. We had a few games at home last year and the crowd played a part in bringing you home. There's nothing better.

"They're a quality side and they've got great belief. I'm pretty sure they can go all the way and win the competition. They deserve to have a home final and it's going to be a helluva game."

In the same breath, however, Coles pointed to the resourcefulness of the canny Crusaders.

"The Crusaders are a pretty experienced team. There are some All Blacks boys who have done a lot of travelling."

Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd also pointed to the edge you get from hosting playoff matches but he sees a more even contest.

"The team sitting at home, not having to travel, certainly has an advantage," said Boyd.

"The Crusaders have different strengths in different areas than we do. Their strengths are more aligned to the strengths of the Lions, I think. The guys with the small numbers on their backs are probably going to decide that game. The forward pack that gets the ascendancy will probably win."

Ackermann looked inward when asked about the final. "All we can do is focus on ourselves. We've got a lot of belief."