Ackermann to stay if Lions win

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Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)

NEWS 24

Lions coach Johan Ackermann is likely to stay on as head coach if they qualify for next year’s Super Rugby competition.

The Lions host the Kings at Ellis Park on Saturday in their second promotion-relegation match. They won the first leg 26-19 in Port Elizabeth last week which makes them favourites to return to Super Rugby next year.

For the Kings to stay up, they have to win Saturday’s clash by at least eight points or with a four-try bonus point.

Ackermann, whose contract at the Lions expires at the end of the season, is desperate to coach in Super Rugby and is therefore likely to extend his stay should the Lions win on Saturday.

According to the Cape Times, he said he will have to weigh up his options for next season if the Lions were to lose in the promotion-relegation playoffs.

“I want to coach at the highest level and I want a chance in Super Rugby,” said Ackermann, who replaced John Mitchell three games before the end of last year’s competition.

Lions CEO Manie Booysen said they are keen for the coach to extend his stay in Johannesburg.

“He’s part of the recovery programme. We definitely don’t want to see him go. He’s had a huge impact on the team this season, he’s brought a maturity to the players and he’s been able to convey the urgency of the task at hand.”

The Lions staying in Super Rugby could also have a significant impact on the future of stalwarts like Elton Jantjies and Franco van der Merwe, but Booysen is not worried.

“Whatever happens on Saturday, I can assure you there won’t be an exodus of players from the Lions. I’m confident Elton and Franco will stay here, but there have been no discussions about them… the focus has been on the promotion-relegation matches.”

The clash kicks off at 17:00, while all 60 000 tickets have been sold out – which sets a new crowd attendance record for Super Rugby.

Teams:

Lions:

15. Ruan Combrinck, 14. Deon Helberg, 13. Stokkies Hanekom, 12. Dylan Des Fountain, 11. Anthony Volmink, 10. Elton Jantjies, 9. Ross Cronje, 8. Warren Whiteley, 7. Derick Minnie, 6. Jaco Kriel, 5. Franco van der Merwe, 4. Hendrik Roodt, 3. Julian Redelinghuys, 2. Martin Bezuidenhout, 1. JC Janse van Rensburg

Substitutes: 16. Robbie Coetzee, 17. Ruan Dreyer, 18. Willie Britz, 19. Warwick Tecklenburg, 20. Guy Cronje, 21. Marnitz Boshoff, 22. Chrysander Botha

Kings:

15. SP Marais, 14. Hadleigh Parkes, 13. Ronnie Cooke, 12. Waylon Murray, 11. Scott van Breda, 10. George Whitehead, 9. Shaun Venter, 8. Jacques Engelbrecht, 7. Wimpie van der Walt, 6. David Bulbring, 5. Darron Nell (captain), 4. Cornell du Preez, 3. Kevin Buys, 2. Bandise Maku, 1. Schalk Ferreira

Substitutes: 16. Charl du Plessis, 17. Hannes Franklin, 18. Steven Sykes, 19. Devin Oosthuizen, 20. Nicolas Vergallo, 21. Wesley Dunlop, 22. Shane Gates

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