Ackermann's replacement: Lions to look 'internal'
REACTION: The Lions will look internally for the replacement for Johan Ackermann, when he departs Ellis Park later this year.
It was confirmed on Monday that Ackermann has signed a three-year contract with English Premiership outfit Gloucester and will depart after the completion of the Super Rugby season.
The focus almost immediately shifted to who will take over from the man credited with much of the Lions' revival - after they were axed from Super Rugby in 2013.
Rudolf Straeuli, Chief Executive Officer at the Lions Rugby Company (Pty) Ltd, said they will look "internally" for a replacement - with the names of assistants Swys de Bruyn and JP Ferreira thrown into the mix at this early stage.
"We'll consult all stake holders before we make an announcement on the next coach," Straeuli told a media briefing in Johannesburg.
"We are fortunate that Johan [Ackermann] has also left us with some coaches with experience in our management team and also our junior coaches.
"We will look within," Straeuli said, adding that the new coach will take charge in the Currie Cup competition.
"At the moment there is enough continuity and enough stability.
"You usually look at people within your system that can do it."
Ackermann also spoke about of his assistants and the Lions' system as a solution to his departure.
"Here at the Lions we have a bond among the coaches," Ackermann said, adding: "There is plenty of experience.
"[Defence coach] JP [Ferreira] has been here since 2007.
"[Assistant coach] Swys [de Bruyn] is also very experienced at all levels. He has been in the Lions system for four years.
"Internally is there are options.
"You can use the Currie Cup to give somebody a chance. I got my opportunity in the Currie Cup in 2012 and that opened the door for me."
Ackermann said it wasn't an easy decision to make, but was the right one for him.
"It did not take just a one-day, but the decision will hopefully enhance me as a coach - that was the main reason for it."
He said he has never been as happy as during his spell at the Lions, which stretch back seven years.
"Driving to the stadium was always a pleasure coming here to Ellis Park, so it was a rugby decision and hopefully I will experience something different in other competitions and hopefully one day I can put that experience back in South Africa."
The departing coach said he would be disappointed if the supporters doubt his integrity and commitment to the side.
"It wasn't easy this morning to tell the players and was quite an emotional time as they mean more to me than just players.
"I owe it to them to be 100 percent committed and to the union for what they have meant to me in my coaching career.
"There's no doubt about my loyalty to the Lions and hopefully till the very last hurdle, but there we must still do a lot of hard work.
"My new journey will only start once my job is done here.
"I trust the players will see that and feel that and that the commitment from their side will also be 100 percent.
"There's some players that we started this journey with me a few years ago and it was a difficult stage for all of us, so it's a bit more than just rugby.
"I talked to the players and reminded them of January 2013, about the resurrection of the Lions. No player is at the Lions by accident.
"But I made it clear to them that I want us to reflect on the journey together and get it over and done this week, because by next week the only focus should be Super Rugby.
"It's not about me, the door might be opening for someone to take the team even higher.
"I told Swys when we started this journey that I know we'll get judged by trophies, but it's more than that to us - it's about working with human beings and see if we can change lives there and that will stay my purpose right to the end of the campaign and wherever I go after that."