Ackermann warns of complacency
Johannesburg - Emirates Lions coach Johan Ackermann has warned against complacency when the team faces the Southern Kings in their penultimate Vodacom Super Rugby match at Emirates Airline Park on Friday night.
Ackermann knows all too well his team are expected to get the five points on offer and take themselves a step closer to claiming the top spot in Super Rugby this weekend but is concerned that complacency can creep in against a side that has nothing to lose and upset his plans for the rest of the competition.
The Lions have been talking so much about what they plan to do for their final fixture against the Jaguares in Buenos Aires that Ackermann has a right to be concerned.
That is why he is drumming the message home that this game is everything, and that the week after can only be approached after this weekend’s fixtures, where all permutations will be a lot clearer for all to see.
“We will always back ourselves at our home stadium but I’ve been taught a lot of hard lessons in my playing days where you have a big victory and the next weekend you really struggle and you grind out a win or you sometimes lose purely because you’re not there in your right mental state,” Ackermann warned.
“In your mind you haven’t prepared as well as you should have. That’s the challenge for the players – put everything aside, respect the Kings, respect that we wear the jersey and we have to do it with pride and go our and make the supporters proud.
“First of all the victory is the one thing we are after, if the bonus point comes then it is great. Most of the games of the Kings they were in the running until late- there was the odd game where they lost it earlier but in most of the games they were competitive.
“You don’t want to get behind and chase the game so ideally we want to start well and play well.”
Ackermann said he had also addressed his senior players about their responsibility and the fact they cannot rest on their laurels at this stage of the season. He warned them the challenge would come, and come hard for the players as every opponent would be out to challenge them from now on.
“I told the players when they became Springboks that it is great, but they must understand that comes with a responsibility,” he explained.
“They need to realise that players will no longer see you as just a player, but they see you now as a Springbok and they will measure themselves against you. That is part of why we play the game, when you were not a Springbok you wanted to play against the Springboks to measure youself. To see where you are and measure yourself, to gain that confidence and self-belief.
“There is no need for motivation for the Kings side and that makes them a dangerous side. The only thing their coach needs to say is boys, go out there and play against the leading side and show that we can play at this level and there is your motivation talk. A side that is in the corner like them can just gain by coming out and proving to everyone they can play.
“For us, I’m quite serious about the game in the sense that we need to be at our best, otherwise we will get unstuck.”
A win will underline the Lions status as the top team in South Africa and give them the option of perhaps resting players for the final match ahead of a tough playoff section of the tournament.
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