Ackermann: energy at Lions exceptional

2012-08-23 17:33

It has been a very difficult week for the Golden Lions off the field. Last week they were relegated from the Super 15 and yesterday an arbitration ruling went against them.

But Johan Ackermann, their interim coach, said the boardroom losses had no bearing on what happens on the field. The Lions host Western Province at Ellis Park on Saturday at 5pm.

“The energy is just exceptional. The spirit in the camp is high and it is evident in the way they have been training,” Ackermann said.

“I keep on telling them that if they worry about the future, you are not going to perform because that is what is taking over your mind. We’ve got a job on our hands and that is to take on Western Province.”

Amid all the doom and gloom that has descended on Doornfontein, there is a bit of sunshine as the Lions welcome back hooker Bandise Maku from injury and Elton Jantjies, who was released from the Springbok squad. They slot back into the starting line-up, replacing the injured Callie Visagie and Waylon Murray.

Butch James moves to number 12, with Murray expected to be out for six weeks with a knee injury.

Ackermann was relieved to have two star players back and was not worried in rushing Maku back into action after he did not play for the whole season.

“I would have liked to introduce Bandise next week, but with Callie out and the front row in good form, I needed that experience,” he said.

“Bandise jumps in sooner than expected, but it is great to have him back. He brings in a great deal of energy and he is also experienced.”

Like the Lions, Western Province welcome back their Springbok personnel in Siya Kolisi and Juan de Jongh. Ackermann knows all too well about Western Province’s defensive ability, but has focused on their scrum, which has been a strength for the Lions.

“We focus on what we can control and we have certain things in place that we want to do well and one of them is the scrum. As a pack of forwards we scrum well and we want to maintain that standard.”

» Teams
Lions:
15 Andries Coetzee, 14 JR Esterhuizen, 13 Lionel Mapoe, 12 Butch James, 11 Anthony Volmink, 10 Elton Jantjies, 9 Michael Bondesio, 8 Warren Whiteley, 7 Joshua Strauss, 6 Cobus Grobbelaar, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Hendrik Roodt, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Bandise Maku, 1 JC Janse van Rensburg (captain)
Substitutes: 16 Martin Bezuidenhout, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Willie Britz, 19 Jaco Kriel, 20 Ross Cronje, 21 Deon Helberg, 22 Ruan Combrinck

Western Province:
15 Gio Aplon, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Juan de Jongh (vice-captain), 12 Marcel Brache, 11 Ederies Arendse, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Louis Schreuder, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Siya Kolisi, 5 De Kock Steenkamp, 4 Don Armand, 3 Frans Malherbe, 2 Deon Fourie (captain), 1 Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16 Siyabonga Ntubeni, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Wilhelm van der Sluys, 19 Jebb Sinclair, 20 Dewaldt Duvenage, 21 JP du Plessis, 22 Kurt Coleman

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