Lions have Kings blueprint

Fri, 15 Aug 2014 10:27
Large ackermann v spencer

INTERVIEW: Kings coach Carlos Spencer is an open book, ensuring the Lions know exactly what to expect when the two sides meet Saturday.

Eastern Province Kings coach Carlos Spencer is an open book, ensuring the Golden Lions know exactly what to expect when the two sides meet at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann worked alongside Spencer - in Johannesburg - when they were both assistant coaches under then Lions head coach John Mitchell a few years ago.

The two New Zealanders, Mitchell and Spencer, left the team under a cloud - after the players locked the coach out of their dressing room before a game against the Sharks in 2012.

While the fall-out of that saw Mitchell take up a number of short-terms posts, before taking up the head coach position at the UKZN Impi (Durban and Pietermaritzburg).

Spencer, after a short stint in an advisory capacity at the Sharks in Duran, move to Port Elizabeth where he was appointed as the EP Kings' head coach for their return to the Currie Cup competition.

Now two former 'teammates' - Ackermann and Spencer - will go head-to-head in South Africa's premier domestic competition for the first time.

And Ackermann feels he knows exactly what to expect from the enigmatic Kiwi, who was one of the more creative All Black flyhalves in his playing days.

"No doubt they will keep the ball in hand and play an expansive game," Ackermann told rugby365 in an interview ahead of the Round Two Currie Cup encounter.

"That is his style, he doesn't like kicking [the ball]," the current Lions mentor, Ackermann added.

He was in no doubt that his charges will have to remain "switched on" and focused for the full 80 minutes.

"We have to be careful that they don't expose us with quick throw-ins, quick restarts, as well as chip- and grubber-kicks.

"If we are going to kick at them, they will certainly look to run back at us.

"They will no doubt take a few chance and play a more risky game - we have to expect the unexpected."

While the Lions also enjoy an expansive game, Ackermann said they have "a few plans" in place for the Kings.

"We don't want to deviate too much from what we have been doing," he told rugby365, adding: "The players are comfortable with the way we play.

"There is a measure of confidence in our gameplan, so the guys must just execute it better with each passing week.

"The key is to do [execute] it at a high intensity and ensure we don't drop our standards.

"There will be one or two plans [in place for the Kings], but by and large it is vital that we protect the ball and that we play with good intensity."

By Jan de Koning

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