Ackermann impressed by Kings

    2013-04-11 18:47
    Johan Ackermann (Gallo Images)
    Cape Town - Lions coach Johan Ackermann says the Kings will be very tough to beat should the two teams meet in the Super Rugby promotion-relegation playoffs.

    The Lions, who were replaced by the Kings for this year's tournament, will play two promotion matches against the lowest ranked South African Super Rugby team in July and August this year.

    The Kings have surprised friend and foe with their performances and proved last week with a 28-all draw against the Brumbies in Canberra that they will be no pushovers in future.

    However, they are currently last in the South African Conference and are still expected to be there at the end of the competition. Should that scenario play itself out, Ackermann's Lions will face the men from Port Elizabeth, with the Lions boss admitting it won't be easy to force their way back into the competition.

    "At this stage, the South African conference is far from being decided. But should we face the Kings, we'll have a tough task on our hands," Ackermann told the SA Rugby Magazine's website.

    "The Kings have definitely exceeded many people's expectations, especially after their draw against the Brumbies overseas.

    "There's a massive difference in their competitiveness compared to last year. Players like Waylon Murray, Bandise Maku, Andries Strauss, Ronnie Cooke and Steven Sykes have been huge signings for them.

    "They will only get better from here. They will be well prepared should they have to play in the promotion-relegation playoffs as they get to test themselves against quality opposition every week in Super Rugby. We don't have that luxury."

    They Lions are likely to go into the playoffs game a little undercooked. They scheduled their own set of matches this year, but recently had to cancel a trip to the United States as the opposition was not deemed strong enough.

    Their players will instead take part in two Vodacom Cup games against Griquas and the Pumas over the next fortnight, before resuming the Lions Challenge series against French club Agen on May 11.

    Lions Challenge fixture list for 2013:

    January 19: Lions 51-13 Russia
    January 23: Lions 33-17 Cheetahs
    February 2: Lions 33-38 Bulls
    February 9: Lions 41-31 Kings
    February 23: Namibia v Lions - Cancelled
    March 16: Lions 56-24 Mont de Marsan
    April 13: US Invitational v Lions - Cancelled
    April 20: US Invitational v Lions - Cancelled
    April 27: Chicago Lions v Lions - Cancelled
    May 11: Lions v Agen - Ellis Park
    June 1: Lions v Samoa - Ellis Park
    June 8: Lions v French Barbarians - Ellis Park
    June 15: Lions v Stormers - Ellis Park
    June 21: Lions v Sharks - Ellis Park
    July 12: Lions v Montpellier - Ellis Park
    July 20: Lions v Grenoble - Ellis Park
    July 27: Super Rugby promotion/relegation -  TBA
    August 3: Super Rugby promotion/relegation - Ellis Park

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