Kwagga groomed as future captain
INTERVIEW: Golden Lions coach Johan Ackermann is grooming Sevens Springbok Albertus Smith as one of the future leaders of the team.
Ackerman named Smith as captains for their crucial Currie Cup encounter with the Eastern Province Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The captaincy duties have been shared between scrumhalf Ross Cronje and inside centre Howard Mnisi throughout the Currie Cup season.
However, Ackermann believes that it is the right time to expand his leadership structure.
"The main reason that we've identified new leadership is mainly to give Ross [Cronje] and Howard [Mnisi] a bit of freedom in their individual games," the coach said.
"We are also starting to identify future leaders.
"Kwagga has played at international [Sevens] level, which means pressure and decision making is not a big issue for him.
"He is also a guy that leads by example, so it was a good choice for us. He has the backing of the Ross and Howard, to assist him on the field," Ackermann said.
Ackermann further boosted the team with the inclusion of two Springboks - hooker Malcolm Marx and tighthead prop Julian Redelinghuys.
Has has been released by Bok coach Allister Coetzee for Currie Cup duty this week, while Redelinghuys makes a welcome return after spending the last few weeks on the sidelines with a hamstring injury - picked up in the Springboks' 30-23 victory over Argentina last month.
"It's great for us to have them," the coach said, adding: "They are experienced players. He is a quality player and brings a good vibe to the team as well."
The Lions have had nine days to prepare for this clash against the Kings, following their 29-37 loss to the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein last Thursday.
Ackermann added that the players are feeling refreshed and ready to hit the field running, after being allowed to take a few days off in the wake of the disappointing trip to Bloemfontein.
"Our position the standings [sixth] is not pretty.
"We always said we going to use the time after the encounter with the Cheetahs as a long weekend recovery. The guys travelled back on the Friday. Saturday, Sunday and Monday they had time off, so everybody was energised and athletic on Tuesday. Hopefully it will help us," Ackermann said.
The Golden Lions currently sit in sixth position on the Currie Cup table, with 17 points from six matches, which includes three wins and three defeats.
With only two matches left to play in the round robin phase they cannot afford to drop a single point.
Turning his attention towards Saturday's game, Ackermann further added that the Lions will have to be accurate throughout the 80 minutes if they are to come away with the points, against a 'brave' Kings team.
"We can only control what we do this Saturday. The points are up for grabs, but it's not going to be easy. We play them down there [Port Elizabeth] and they've shown a lot of heart and a lot of intent in this Currie Cup.
"We have to go out and be quite clinical, but the guys know what to do and we must just get back to those structures," said Ackermann.
By Josh Isaacson