News24

Lions shift focus to S15 fight

2012-10-21 20:03

Johannesburg - Golden Lions interim coach Johan Ackermann said his side would now start their journey towards reclaiming a Super Rugby berth after they were knocked out of the Currie Cup competition over the weekend.

"There will still be some tough games coming up over the next six months but it won't be in a competition format," Ackermann said after their 21-16 semi-final loss to Western Province on Saturday.

"Our first big game will probably be the playoffs to get back into Super Rugby here at Ellis Park."

While Ackermann was proud of his team's performance against Province, he bemoaned their lost chances.

"We had many opportunities to close down the game but we didn't take them," he said.

Ackermann, however, lauded his players for their triumph over adversity to reach the Currie Cup semi-finals after a difficult year.

The Golden Lions Rugby Union (GLRU) not only lost their place in next year's Super Rugby competition but were further mired in controversy when their New Zealand coach John Mitchell was suspended towards the end of their Super Rugby campaign.

The union also terminated assistant coaches Carlos Spencer and Wayne Taylor's contracts shortly before the start of the Currie Cup competition.

"The players had to remain level-headed about their futures, then there was the new coach, and new assistant coaches," said Ackermann, who had to step into the coaching role.

"If you consider all of this, we could as well have finished in sixth place and everything could have fallen apart. We could have been involved in the promotion/relegation matches."

The Lions have an arduous road ahead of them as they have already lost a number of senior players to other unions and overseas clubs.

The Johannesburg-based outfit is set to lose key players Franco van der Merwe, Elton Jantjies, Jaco Taute and Lionel Mapoe for the duration of the Super Rugby season - as loan players to other South African franchises - although they would return for the promotion/relegation matches.

Despite the exodus of top players, Ackermann said they would work hard to strengthen player depth.

"There are a core of players who are committed and then we've identified some young players that can slot in where the other guys have left off," Ackermann said.

"We just have to knuckle down and build the team as a unit and, if you have 22 guys that want to play, we won't be bad."

The coach said the team would continue their off-season training as if they were preparing for the Super Rugby.

He was also confident that the alternative matches they were arranging for the side would prepare them for the promotion/relegation match against the SA team which finishes last on the Super Rugby conference log.

"We are still going to play the Super Rugby franchises and there will be some exciting games for the guys of a higher standard than Vodacom (Cup) rugby," he said.

"We've got a few months to build a side towards that, and use the lessons we've learned tonight (Saturday) because that game will almost be like a semi."

Among the players who will remain behind is captain JC Janse van Rensburg, who said he felt he needed to repay the union for the faith they have shown in him over the years.

"I came here as a 'boertjie' and the big city was massive for me and I couldn't even speak English," Janse van Rensburg said.

"The union has, over the years, been great towards me, always willing to give me a contract, and I just feel I have to pay them back.

"It will only be six months not playing Super Rugby but in 2014 we will be back with a bang."

SAPA

Comments
  • daniel.rossouw1 - 2012-10-21 20:58

    Still can't believe it. What did they think. Allowing EP into S15 is like telling a runner who can't finish a 10km race to go run marathons. Lions like Arnie- YOU WILL BE BACK!!

      mike.bundy.73 - 2012-10-22 10:10

      Not just telling them to try and run marathons but paying them a fortune for the attempt

      bakkies.botha.39 - 2012-10-22 10:49

      Isak, julle weer in die finaal. Geluk ou perd, geniet dit want Saterdag word julle tjank afgebyt!!!

      chez.kri - 2012-10-22 14:06

      @visser. Province are not huge and they will be slaughtered by the Sharks. There is a reason that they have so many Springboks but still can't win anything! USELESS PROVINCE!!!!

  • robert.reeve.7564 - 2012-10-21 21:44

    Lions have improved so much that they deserve S15 spot, but S15 needs a palooka so EP will do well.

  • werner.n86 - 2012-10-21 23:08

    The LIONS will never just give up. We will return and saru will notice it and they will kneel before the mighty lion to forgive them. LIONS 4 LIFE.

      lean.sadie - 2012-10-22 02:59

      Winning what 2 games in 2 years is mighty, go lions.

      sean.brady.14224 - 2012-10-22 10:04

      Lean, you obviously watched lots of Super Rugby this year! But don't let the facts get in the way of a good story. There is also the manner in which you lose. There were many games this year when the Lions were in the game until the last ten minutes, then a silly error would cost them. Unlike the fantastic Kings who were a beaten side after less than twenty minutes against a much weakened Free State side!!!

  • johan.d.villiers.5 - 2012-10-22 07:06

    Is die kings nie juis gekies sodat voorheen benadeelde spelers van die oos kaap n kans kan kry om te ontwikkel nie? Hoekom het daar dan net 1 speler van kleur teen die cheetahs die naweek gespeel? En nie eers van die oos kaap af nie? Verduidelik dit vir my? Ek verstaan die lions se pyn, bitter onregverdig

      blou.johnny - 2012-10-22 09:50

      ...dis 'n skande dat die Leeus uit gegooi is ten koste van 'n ondergemiddelde spannetjie soos die EP Queens.. ...flippen skande...

  • henri.langeveldt - 2012-10-22 07:47

    Good stuff JC! It is because of guys like you and Johan that we "keep the faith"!

  • clivegoss - 2012-10-22 11:49

    You wuz robbed by SARU but come next year Cheeky will be without excuses GO LIONS

  • dries.badenhorst - 2012-10-22 12:27

    Cool - I am a Province supporter (a very happy, yet nervous one) after the weekend. My hope lies in the history of favorites between these 2 teams - the one wearing that tag mostly end up loosing - but our weakish front row does cause concern. Lions, you played well, and I would not have minded had you gone to the final - your brand of rugby is exciting, to say the least! S15 - I think that this might be a very tough hurdle for you to overcome. Yup, the PR is positive and all systems are go, but the reality will prove that you can't make a good potjie on paper, you need to do it on the field. EP used to be "semi" competative - thinking back to the Danbie Gerber 80's ..... but since the measure of their strength is against a B-League for many years now, we see the huge gap because of their lack of strong competition..... Yes, you will be back (you should not have left as there seems to be little development of coloured or black players happening - making their participation a lie that no other union would have gotten away with) but you are set for a tough return in 2014 with year's gap, which means that you will have to "rebuild" every second year - and that will never be a conducive environment to attract or keep top players - as players have shorter careers, having to be on show in top teams, most of it. I feel you pain. You have really become my 2nd favorite team based on guts, determination, talent and style of play - but you have been dealt a sickening blow.

      Alan - 2012-10-22 14:33

      Well said Dries. I agree with you completely - even the bit about being nervous for next week. If I was a WP supporter I would be too. But I'm not. Go SHARKS!

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