Botha: Ackermann 'understands' players
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: South Africa 'A' coach Johan Ackermann has left a lasting legacy not only on his Lions team but also the SA 'A' team. Josh Isaacson reports.
After being appointed as head coach of the Johannesburg-based outfit in 2013, Ackermann has taken the Lions from the lows of being relegated from Super Rugby in 2014 to the best team in South Africa, 2016 Super Rugby runners-up and challenging for the 2017 Super Rugby title, having won 12 of 13 games played thus far and sitting top of the South African group with 56 points.
Ackermann is currently in charge of the South Africa 'A' team who are preparing for their second match against the French Barbarians at the Orlando Stadium in Soweto on Friday after outscoring the same opposition by six tries to four en route to a 38-26 victory at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban last week.
The SA 'A' team held their first training session of the week in Johannesburg on Monday and speaking to reporters after training, lock Ruan Botha said that Ackermann gets the best out of his players with effective communication skills and encouragement.
"Coach Johan Ackermann is a coach that understands players. I think that's the main thing coaches get right in this country, so they understand the players and know what the players want and he rewards players for doing well, so I think that’s what he brings to the party," said Botha.
Ackermann explained that it has been an honour for him to coach his country and he has experienced valuable lessons which has developed his coaching abilities, after working with many different players from different unions and backgrounds.
"It's awesome [coaching South Africa 'A']. First of all, it's a privilege, second of all it's great to get exposed to different players from different unions and spend some time with them as you only see them on TV or when you play against them.
"Last of all, it teaches you how to adapt quite quickly, management of new players in a short space of time and also structure wise - your planning. So, it was really a great two years of experience, also for me to test myself and to see how other international teams play against you," commented Ackermann.
Ackermann will be leaving the Lions for English club Gloucester at the end of the 2017 Super Rugby season.
Having left a lasting legacy on both the Lions and the South Africa 'A' team, Gloucester will be confident of future glory and silverware with Ackermann at the helm.
By Josh Isaacson, in Johannesburg