Cape Town - No 8 Warren Whiteley has credited coach Johan
Ackermann for the revival in Lions rugby.
This season, Ackermann coached the Lions to a Currie Cup
title while they also had an adequate Super Rugby campaign, winning nine of
their 16 games.
Not only have the Lions showed a revival in form, but they
have also done so by employing an enterprising game style.
“This all started when Johan Ackermann took over as head
coach and encouraged the players to play for each other and the jersey,”
Whiteley told MyPlayers.co.za. “He put the pride back into Lions rugby, which
had a major influence on the team. We enjoyed a strong finish to Super Rugby
last year, and we did well during this year’s tournament. We’re also doing well
in the Currie Cup. This is all reward for the hard work we’ve put in to ensure
the Lions excel as a unit… as a family.”
According to Whiteley, there are also sound structures in
place at the union.
“We’ve been lucky to have great continuity in the squad over
the past two seasons, and at the same time, the union has worked hard to
develop the young talent among the junior teams,” he said.
“And these guys are coming through the system and proving
their worth. Many of them made their mark in the Currie Cup this season, which
is why it’s still such a great competition as it provides a platform for these
young players to showcase their talent and abilities at a high level. It’s
great to see so many young players flourishing, and that will only add to the
Lions’ momentum going forward.”
Whiteley also thrives in his role as leader in the team.
“My time in the Springbok squad has helped improve my
leadership skills. Watching the way Jean de Villiers and Victor Matfield lead
the team has given me great insight... things I can take back to the Lions.
“I also have to thank my Lions team-mates and coaches
around me for their support and assistance. They’ve made the job a whole lot
easier for me.
“Among the players, there are other leaders who share the
responsibility. Guys like Elton Jantjies, Jaco Kriel, Franco Mostert and Lionel
Mapoe. Howard Mnisi also captained the team recently in the Currie Cup. These
are just a few of the players who make a massive difference in their respective
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