More new faces for Lions
Mon, 21 Jan 2013 21:44
They have the chance to sort out the pecking order
Lions coach Johan Ackermann will continue to introduce new faces to the team in the weeks ahead.
Having started their first Challenge match, against Russia at the weekend, with an impressive 51-13 win last Saturday, Ackermann will make more changes for the next match.
The outfit that was axed from Super Rugby in controversial fashion last year, will face the first of their frontline South African rivals when they take on the Cheetahs in Johannesburg on Saturday.
The Lions walked away from their seven-try rout of the Russians without any injuries or medical concerns.
"It is always great to walk away from a game without any major injuries," Ackermann told this website, adding that he will continue to test combinations.
"The new players in the system, along with young players from the Under-20 group who have been in our system, will be given opportunities," he said of the matches in the next few weeks that will see them tackle the Cheetahs, Bulls and Kings.
"This past weekend 11 players wore the Lions senior jersey for the first time or made their first appearance in a Lions jersey," Ackermann told this website, adding: "This coming weekend there will again be a host of new faces.
"The first few weeks we will use to give all the players a fair crack at [getting into] the team.
"They have the chance to sort out the pecking order ... who is number one, two and three. After that we will see who used his opportunities best."
Asked if he feared losing momentum while making all the changes, the Lions mentor spoke of the need to give all the players a fair crack.
"We always want to be competitive and win when the opportunity presents itself," he said, adding: "That [losing momentum] is a factor.
"However, we have a host of new players and I have a responsibility to those players to judge them in a match situation.
"Until the Vodacom Cup competition gets underway [in early March], when I will be able to send players back to that competition to assess them, I will rotate players in the senior squad.
"Hopefully that will ensure the players are on the same level and when we are then forced to make replacements we wont lose any momentum."
Ackermann described as "mission accomplished" his team's first outing of the new season.
The visiting Russians were no match for his energetic outfit.
While Ackermann was satisfied with the win, he added that there was plenty to improve on.
"One particular area was the restarts," he said, adding: "When they kicked on us, we made it difficult to get out of our own half.
"It probably had a bit to do with the weather and we didn't get to do what we planned.”
By Jan de Koning
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