Kriel: Coach Ackers like a father to me

    2017-08-05 21:33

    Lloyd Burnard - Ellis Park

    Johannesburg - Lions captain Jaco Kriel had to fight back tears when giving his post-match television interview at Ellis Park on Saturday. 

    This final had meant so much to him and he was desperate to give coach Johan Ackermann, who will now leave the Lions for Gloucester, the perfect send-off. 

    It was not to be, and despite the 14-man Lions throwing everything at the Crusaders in the final 25 minutes, they went down 25-17.

    By the time Kriel faced the written press, he had composed himself, but the disappointment on his face was understandably still there for all to see. 

    "My emotions are all over the place at the moment, so it's really difficult for me," Kriel said.

    "Coach has been like a father to me. He's a mentor and one of the greatest coaches I have met in my rugby career.

    "He's taught me so much and I believe it's the same for the rest of the guys. We're not going to be sad about it; we're going to celebrate him tonight and make this night special for him although we couldn't get the trophy for him."

    This team's religious beliefs have been an undeniably big part of what they are about, and Kriel said he would take comfort in that despite the loss.

    "I believe we inspired people in a way tonight," he said.

    "We're really going to miss him (Ackermann) and he's probably one of the best coaches in the world."

    Ackermann leaves for Gloucester on Wednesday and starts his new job on Thursday.

    "We will keep him busy until Wednesday," Kriel said, able to crack the faintest of smiles.

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