Johannesburg - While the Golden Lions are making a habit of playing in the Currie Cup semi-finals, their coach Johan Ackermann is not finding the process any easier.
The men from Johannesburg have featured in every single semi-final since winning the title in 2011.
They came painstakingly close to winning the trophy last year but were denied by Western Province in Cape Town.
Although the build-up to Saturday’s knockout match against the Free State Cheetahs is giving Ackermann sleepless nights, he believes the players are taking it in their stride.
“I believe the players will find it easier because they know what to expect but I think from the management side it is a more nerve-wracking time because you know it is so close,” Ackermann said at the team announcement in Johannesburg on Thursday.
“You know it is so close and after the disappointment from last year you hope the mistakes don’t repeat itself but we have faith in the guys.
“A semi-final is more nerve wracking than a final because in a final you at least give yourself a shot at the cup while if you lose a semi-final you are pretty much the same as a team that ended fifth or sixth. You have nothing to show.”
Ackermann restored his big guns to the starting line-up after the fringe players featured in the team’s final match of the round-robin phase against Griquas.
“Slowly but surely the week’s excitement is building and they’ve got that new energy so hopefully the plan will fall in place,” Ackermann said.
Jaco Kriel will again lead the team with the leadership group consisting of Warren Whiteley, Ross Cronje and Howard Mnisi all back on duty.
Kick-off for Saturday’s clash at Ellis Park is scheduled for 13:45.
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 Courtnall Skosan, 13 Stokkies Hanekom, 12 Howard Mnisi, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Marnitz Boshoff, 9 Ross Cronje, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Steph de Witt, 6 Jaco Kriel (captain), 5 Franco Mostert, 4 Lourens Erasmus, 3 Julian Redelinghuys, 2 Malcom Marx, 1 Jacques van Rooyen
Substitutes: 16 Robbie Coetzee, 17 Ruan Dreyer, 18 Fabian Booysen,19 Kwagga Smith, 20 Jaco van der Walt, 21 Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 22 Sampie Mastriet
Free State Cheetahs:
15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Sergeal Petersen, 13 Francois Venter, 12 Rayno Benjamin, 11 Raymond Rhule, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Niell Jordaan, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Boom Prinsloo, 5 Francois Uys (captain), 4 Armandt Koster, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Jacques du Toit,1 BG Uys
Substitutes: 16 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 17 Maks van Dyk, 18 Reniel Hugo, 19 Gerhard Olivier, 20 Ruan van Rensburg, 21 Sias Ebersohn, 22 AJ Coertzen