Su­per Rugby tro­phy would be ‘ul­ti­mate high­light’ for Lions coach

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

EL­LIS Park is all dressed up and wait­ing to pro­vide a fit­ting farewell for Lions coach Jo­han Ack­er­mann to­day.

It will hope­fully come after his team beat the Cru­saders and bag a first Su­per Rugby tro­phy for the Jo­han­nes­burg-based side.

After five years in charge of the Lions, Ack­er­mann will take up his new job as head coach of Glouces- ter in Eng­land next week.

“The in­ter­est in this game is amaz­ing. It’s so ex­cit­ing and for at­mos­phere it’s up there with Test rugby,” he said.

“I won a few Tests in my day, but there was never long-term in­vest­ment and I was never part of a Bok team that lifted a cup, like a World Cup. Here and there I won a Cur­rie Cup but this, Su­per Rugby, is so much big­ger than that.

“Hav­ing spent the time I have here and helped build this team over the years... this is as big as it gets for me. Win­ning this ti­tle would be the ul­ti­mate high­light... def­i­nitely my big­gest rugby mo­ment.”

The Lions have lost just once this year and have pro­duced sev­eral play­ers who form the core of the Spring­bok team.

Lions cap­tain War­ren White­ley leads the Boks, too, but he misses to­day’s fi­nal due to in­jury.

Stand- in skip­per Jaco Kriel said: “I will never be able to fill War­ren’s shoes. He’s such an amaz­ing leader and bril­liant per­son.

“The great thing here at the Lions is that the cap­tain is never left on his own. I’ve got all these amaz­ing play­ers around me and that helps tremen­dously.

“Cap­tain­ing this team is not my job – it’s the job of ev­ery player in the team. We know that if we all stick to­gether, ev­ery­thing will work out, no mat­ter the sit­u­a­tion.”

Ack­er­mann and the Lions have done ev­ery­thing they could have to qual­ify for and earn the right to host, to­day’s tour­na­ment de­cider, which will be played in front of 62 000 fans – af­ford­ing them their best chance of seiz­ing the ti­tle.

All they have to do is go out and give it their best ef­fort. After kick­off at 4pm, just 80 min­utes rests be­tween them and rugby glory.

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