Lions structures reap rewards

Wed, 12 Oct 2016 13:41
Large johan ackermann h s 800

INTERVIEW: The Golden Lions' harmonised structures are beginning to filter through to the junior teams and reaping rewards.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann, speaking ahead of their Currie Cup semifinal showdown with the Free State Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Saturday, said he are so many positives to come from this season.

With as many as nine players involved with the Springboks throughout the domestic season, the have fielded a vastly different team from that which won the Currie Cup last year.

"We have developed new players, with a view to [Super Rugby] next year," Ackermann told rugby365.

"All three our teams - Under-19, Under-21 and seniors - are in the play-offs," he said of a weekend which will see the Golden Lions U19 and U21 teams take on their trans-Jukskei rivals the Blue Bulls in their respective semifinals - along with the Currie Cup play-off match in Bloemfontein.

"The great thing about this is that the structures are in place,"Ackermann said, adding: "We are positive that there will be good results this weekend."

He said that for all three Lions teams this weekend it is not about winning or losing, but the way they play and the quality they produce.

That is also why they won't be changing their approach on Saturday, or go into their shells just because it is a semifinal.

"The players know our routine and they know our processes," the coach said.

"We approach it like just another game.

"It will be the same routine and same game plan.

"The key is that we have to execute our game plan."

Ackermann said the big difference this year is that they will be playing the Cheetahs away from home, unlike last year when the Lions won the corresponding game 43-33 in Johannesburg.

The Lions will make some "minor adjustments" because heir team has changed dramatically from last year's victorious Currie Cup outfit.

The most significant names that will be absent from the team sheet this week - compared to the corresponding match in 2015 - are lock Franco Mostert, loose forwards Jaco Kriel (who was captain) and Warren Whiteley, flyhalf Marnitz Boshoff, injured centre Howard Mnisi and fellow centre Nicolaas Hanekom.

"The general approach and game plan are unchanged [from last year]," Ackermann said, adding: "As I have said before, it is about the execution of that game plan.

"More importantly, it is also about the development of the players.

"Our approach won't be that it is a knock-out game.

"[It will be] just like [the game] against the Sharks, when we trailed [0-10 at half-time and 0-13 after 45 minutes] and in the second half used our opportunities," he said of a game his team won 28-16.

The Lions had a couple of try-scoring opportunities and some missed penalties kicks at goal in that first half of their last league match - which they had to win to qualify for the play-offs.

"The same applies to a play-off match like this.

"You will only have so many scoring opportunities and that is why it is important to use your opportunities.

"For us, it is another opportunity to go and partake in something we love and which we are passionate about.

"It is also great to be part of such a big day."

Ackermann also praised the Cheetahs for "bringing spectators back to the game" with an attractive brand of rugby.

"It will be a great game, with both teams playing positive and attractive rugby," he said, adding: "It should be an exciting and entertaining game."

By Jan de Koning
@king365ed
@rugby365com

Crusaders vs Force
sast: 08h35 | local: 19h35

  • 0 | 0
LIVE
FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 24 March 2017
Crusaders v Force 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Waratahs 08h45 Melbourne
Glasgow Warriors v Connacht 17h15 Scotstoun Stadium
Scarlets v Edinburgh 19h05 Parc y Scarlets
Dragons v Ulster 19h35 Rodney Parade
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Sat, 25 March 2017
Blues v Bulls 06h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Highlanders 08h45 Canberra
Sunwolves v Stormers 10h55 Singapore
Kings v Lions 13h05 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre v Munster 14h00 Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi
Harlequins v Newcastle Falcons 15h00 Twickenham Stoop
Exeter Chiefs v Sale Sharks 15h00 Sandy Park
Saracens v Bath 15h00 Allianz Park
Northampton Saints v Leicester Tigers 15h00 Franklin's Gardens
Leinster v Cardiff Blues 15h00 RDS Arena
Cheetahs v Blues 15h15 Bloemfontein
Treviso v Ospreys 19h35 Stadio Monigo
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 26 March 2017
Wasps v Worcester Warriors 14h30 Ricoh Arena
Bristol v Gloucester 15h00 Ashton Gate
Mon, 27 March 2017
NWU-Pukke v UP-Tuks 14h45 Potchefstroom
Fort Hare v UKZN-Impi 16h30 Davidson Stadium
Wits v UCT-Ikeys 16h30 Johannesburg
NMMU-Madibaz v CUT-Ixias 16h30 Bloemfontein
UWC v WSU 16h30 Cape Town
Maties v UJ 17h00 Stellenbosch
CURRIE CUP
MORE LOGS
Team P W D L Pts
Free State Cheetahs 8 8 0 0 39
Blue Bulls 8 6 0 2 30
Western Province 8 5 0 3 27
Golden Lions 8 5 0 3 26
Sharks 8 5 0 3 25
Griquas 8 4 0 4 21
Boland 8 2 0 6 11
Pumas 8 1 0 7 10
EP Kings 8 0 0 8 1