OUT­GO­ING Lions coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann and stand-in cap­tain Jaco Kriel have given in­com­ing coach Swys de Bruin the big thumbs up.

The 57-year-old De Bruin, who has been Ack­er­mann’s as­sis­tant since 2013 and helped de­velop the team’s much-vaunted at­tack­ing style of rugby, will take over the head coach po­si­tion at the end of the sea­son when Ack­er­mann heads to Eng­land to take up a po­si­tion with Glouces­ter Rugby.

De Bruin was this week named coach of this year’s Cur­rie Cup and next year’s Su­per Rugby teams, with the pos­si­bil­ity of stay­ing on for longer than that.

Ack­er­mann and Kriel both said De Bruin was fully de­serv­ing of tak­ing charge of the Lions.

“I’m so pleased for Swys,” said Ack­er­mann. “We’ve come a long way to­gether and the good thing is the play­ers know how he works and thinks, and he knows how the play­ers here think. He’s got so much ex­pe­ri­ence.

“We’ve got a unique cul­ture here at the Lions and he’s a big part of that. He knows how to get the best out of the play­ers. He has the (No) 10, 11 and 12 Spring­boks around him, and with a sta­ble man­age­ment team and sup­port staff his se­lec­tion as coach is a great choice.”

Kriel, who is cur­rently lead­ing the team in the ab­sence of the in­jured War­ren White­ley, said the play­ers were thrilled when told that De Bruin would take charge when Ack­er­mann leaves.

“The play­ers are de­lighted. They know what they’re get­ting in him and, like coach Akkies, he has an open-door pol­icy where play­ers are free to dis­cuss things, like plans and ideas, and they en­joy that,” Kriel said.

“We’ll all miss coach Akkies, but coach Swys is the right man for the job. He knows the play­ers, what makes them tick, and he knows the cul­ture of the team.”

Be­fore join­ing the Lions in 2012, De Bruin coached at the Sharks, deal­ing with the ju­nior teams and their academy, while he also took charge of Gri­quas for sev­eral sea­sons. He starred at scrumhalf and fly­half in his play­ing day and be­fore ven­tur­ing into coach­ing he was a teacher. –

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