LIVE

    No free ride for Lions' Boks

    2017-02-08 14:00

    Brenden Nel - SuperSport

    Johannesburg - Lions coach Johan Ackermann has warned his Springboks they will need to “reset the clock” and earn their jerseys back, saying there will be no “free ride” for his Springboks in 2017.

    The Lions will start this year’s Super Rugby campaign as the South African-favourites after their appearance in the final last season, and will be looking to go one better than they did at the same time last year.

    But with a number of his Springboks - including captain Warren Whiteley, flank Jaco Kriel, lock Franco Mostert, flyhalf Elton Jantjies and midfielder Lionel Mapoe - all playing in the Japanese league in the off-season, Ackermann said they will need to prove themselves this season again - and past glories mean little in the team environment.

    Luckily for Ackermann the Springboks all returned injury free from their travels, but must now look to re-establish themselves as the leaders in the side.

    “Warren and all the other Springbok guys - they know my heart, I only select a guy who performs,” Ackermann told supersport.com.

    “If they don’t perform the next step is the bench and after that you are out. So they will have to earn back the jersey, and I trust they will.

    “Last year January they weren’t Boks but then again, a year later they are more experienced and have experienced more pressure, even if it is the type of pressure they’ve experienced and they know how to get over that. I do believe they are mentally stronger.

    “At the end of the day we play for a purpose and that is to honour God, we are blessed to be healthy and stuff. I know the players will not just play for me, but play for the team and for the privilege that the Lord has blessed us with - healthy bodies and the ability to play this game, the game we love.

    “If that is their motivation, then it is good enough for me. Will we make mistakes, we will - regardless of being a Springbok or not, but we will back them and hopefully we will get them where they need to be - at their best.”

    While there have been concerns about players playing in Japan and other Super Rugby sides have fallen foul to injuries to their top Boks when they returned last year, Ackermann isn’t worried about the conditioning of his players, many of whom he says are in exceptional condition for the pre-season.

    “I believe the positives are that they’ve been with us since 2013/2014 but since we’ve taken over - (assistant coach) Swys de Bruin and myself - they know exactly what our expectation is. They are the leaders in our group - they are the guys who set the culture and they are the guys who decide on certain values - and they live those values,” he added.

    “They look after their conditioning and therefore when they slotted in, yes, its cold out there and now here its warm outside. There are one or two of those challenges, but they don’t look out of sorts and they don’t look unconditioned.

    “A guy like Jaco Kriel still played an 80 minute game a few weeks ago. So it is just a question for us to manage them. They must get used to one or two things that we have done.

    “But like I said, over the years they got more experience, they have the freedom to speak about how they feel and they know they can come and speak to me and tell me this is what I need and it won’t be an influence on the team. If a player needs a day rest somewhere we can manage that.

    “Like I said, there is no free ride, there is no way you are selected because you played well last year. You have to obviously reset that and do everything over again this year.”

    The Lions face the Stormers in their final pre-season game this Saturday at Newlands.

    Read the story on supersport.com.

    What To Read Next

    Read News24’s Comments Policy

    Live Video Streaming
    Video Highlights
    Sport Talk

    Fixtures

    Saturday, 17 February 2018
    • Stormers v Jaguares, Cape Town 15:05
    • Lions v Sharks, Emirates Airlines Park 17:15
    Friday, 23 February 2018
    • Highlanders v Blues, Forsyth Barr Stadium 08:35
    • Rebels v Reds, AAMI Park 10:45
    Saturday, 24 February 2018
    • Sunwolves v Brumbies, Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium 06:15
    • Crusaders v Chiefs, AMI Stadium 08:35
    • Waratahs v Stormers, Allianz Stadium 10:45
    • Lions v Jaguares, Emirates Airlines Park 15:05
    • Bulls v Hurricanes, Loftus Versfeld 17:15

    Results

    05 August 2017
    29 July 2017
    22 July 2017
    21 July 2017
    15 July 2017
    14 July 2017
    08 July 2017
    07 July 2017
    01 July 2017
    30 June 2017
    09 June 2017
    03 June 2017
    02 June 2017
    28 May 2017
    27 May 2017
    26 May 2017
    21 May 2017
    20 May 2017
    19 May 2017
    13 May 2017
    12 May 2017
    06 May 2017
    05 May 2017
    30 April 2017
    29 April 2017
    28 April 2017
    22 April 2017
    21 April 2017
    15 April 2017
    14 April 2017
    09 April 2017
    08 April 2017
    07 April 2017
    02 April 2017
    01 April 2017
    31 March 2017
    25 March 2017
    24 March 2017
    18 March 2017
    17 March 2017
    11 March 2017
    10 March 2017
    04 March 2017
    03 March 2017
    02 March 2017
    25 February 2017
    24 February 2017
    23 February 2017
    06 August 2016
    30 July 2016
    23 July 2016
    22 July 2016
    16 July 2016
    15 July 2016
    09 July 2016
    08 July 2016
    02 July 2016
    01 July 2016
    29 May 2016
    28 May 2016
    27 May 2016
    21 May 2016
    20 May 2016
    14 May 2016
    13 May 2016
    07 May 2016
    06 May 2016
    30 April 2016
    29 April 2016
    24 April 2016
    23 April 2016
    22 April 2016
    16 April 2016
    15 April 2016
    09 April 2016
    08 April 2016
    03 April 2016
    02 April 2016
    01 April 2016
    27 March 2016
    26 March 2016
    25 March 2016
    19 March 2016
    18 March 2016
    12 March 2016
    11 March 2016
    05 March 2016
    04 March 2016
    27 February 2016
    26 February 2016

    Logs

    Rank Team P W Pts

    Opinion Poll

    The 2017 Super Rugby tournament has reached its quarter-final stage. When all is said and done, who emerges victorious?

    The ultimate Super Rugby quiz!

    TAKE THE QUIZ
    There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.