Currie Cup

Lions remain upbeat - coach

2012-08-23 17:11
Johan Ackermann (File)

Johannesburg - Golden Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann says his side remained positive despite bad news on the team's future in Super Rugby, and mounting financial setbacks.

"We've got a job at hand and that is to play against Province, and I asked them if they are not good enough to focus on that they must tell me," Ackermann said on Thursday.

"But it looks like the team has begun to focus on the job that is at hand."

Ackermann said the energy and spirit in the camp had been exceptional, and they had buckled down in training ahead of the match.

"I keep on telling them that if you worry about the future you're not going to perform," he said.

Lions captain JC Janse van Rensburg said while it was difficult for the players to ignore the off-field issues, they still had a job to do.

"Our main focus is this Currie Cup. As players we definitely have another 12 weeks together and we are going to focus and try to win this cup together," Janse van Rensburg said.

Ackermann made three changes to the side for the Western Province Currie Cup match at Coca-Cola Park on Saturday.

Hooker Bandise Maku makes his return after missing the entire Super Rugby season due to a serious pectoral muscle injury. He replaces Callie Visagie, who is nursing a few bruised ribs.

Ackermann welcomed Maku's return, but said the injury to Visagie slightly forced his hand ahead of the clash.

"It may be a week sooner than I wanted to, but with Callie out and him [Maku] being in good form with the front row I needed that experience... it is great to have him back he'll bring a lot of energy," Ackermann said.

"He only played one club game since [his] return from injury."

The team was buoyed by the return of playmaker flyhalf Elton Jantjies after he was released from the Springbok squad to tour Argentina.

Butch James, who covered at pivot, moves to centre, replacing Waylon Murray who sustained a knee injury last weekend against the Sharks.

"He [Jantjies] comes in at the right time with Waylon that is out," Ackermann said.

"We are fortunate enough to shift Butchie out to 12 so we've got two good decision makers next to each other. Elton is just great on attack and he is always looking for that opportunity."

On the bench, Martin Bezuidenhout replaces Francois du Toit as back-up hooker, while Deon Helberg will take the place of Guy Cronje as utility back.

Ackermann said the team needed to improve on their discipline and added that they let too many one-on-one tackles slip against the Sharks last weekend.

The clash at Coca-Cola Park kicks off at 17:05 on Saturday.

Teams:

Lions:


15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain)

Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruan Combrinck

Western Province:

15. Gio Aplon, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12. Marcel Brache, 11. Ederies Arendse, 10. Demetri Catrakilis, 9. Louis Schreuder, 8. Duane Vermeulen, 7. Tyrone Holmes, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. De Kock Steenkamp, 4. Don Armand, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Deon Fourie (captain), 1. Steven Kitshoff

Substitutes: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 JP du Plessis, 22 Kurt Coleman

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