The Golden Lions may have just finished off a season of renewal but all
indications are they will have to fight tooth and nail to keep their
coach Johan Ackermann in South Africa after being targeted by a top club
According to the supersport.com website, Ackermann has received a big-money offer from a Japanese club to join
them from the end of 2015 after the Rugby World Cup and depending on his
current negotiations with the Lions, may well take the bait of heading
towards the Far East.
The Lions coach has overseen the team’s comeback from the mire, after
missing a season of Vodacom Super Rugby to record their best ever season
with seven wins in 2014, and took the team to the final of the Absa
Currie Cup with some sparkling play that caught the eye of Bok coach
Heyneke Meyer later on in the year.
The mix of rugby played by the Lions encompasses an ability to attack
from anywhere, while their players have done wonderfully for a bunch of
no-name recruits who nobody gave a chance.
Ackermann is currently negotiating an extension to his contract at the
Lions with CEO Rudolf Straeuli and the offer from Japan will place
renewed pressure on the Lions to sign their popular coach.
The former Bok lock, who was until recently the oldest Bok when he
played his last test at 37, came into the job as assistant to John
Mitchell and took over when the former All Black coach fell out with the
players and Lions hierarchy.
His agent Gert-Andries van der Merwe confirmed to supersport.com that there was an offer, but was mum on the details.
“I was recently in Japan and we did receive an offer from a top club but
that is all I can say. I’m not allowed to reveal which one,” Van der
Merwe said on the offer.
While Japanese clubs are known for their big spending on players,
Ackermann may become only the second South African coach to the coach
there after Gary Gold this season. Gold is finishing his stay with the
defending champion Kobe Steelers before returning to South Africa to
take over the coaching at the Cell C Sharks.
It is known that Kobe will be looking for a replacement for Gold, but
there has been no confirmation that this is the club that has offered
Ackermann the position.
Kobe also have former Boks Jaque Fourie and Andries Bekker on their
books, both who were also set to move to the Sharks before committing
what remains of their careers to the Steelers, thereby negating any
chance of either playing in next year’s Rugby World Cup.