Lions could lose Ackermann to Japanese club in big-money offer

2014-12-11 00:00

THE Golden Lions may have just ­finished off a season of renewal but all indications are they will have to fight tooth and nail to keep their coach Johan Ackermann in South Africa after he was targeted by a top club in Japan.

According to the supersport.com website, Ackermann has received a big-money offer from a Japanese club to join them from the end of 2015 after the Rugby World Cup and depending on his current negotiations with the Lions, may well take the bait of heading towards the Far East.

The Lions coach has overseen the team’s comeback from the mire, after missing a season of Vodacom Super Rugby to record their best ever season with seven wins in 2014, and took the team to the final of the Absa Currie Cup with some sparkling play that caught the eye of Springbok coach Heyneke Meyer later on in the year.

The mix of rugby played by the Lions encompasses an ability to attack from anywhere, while their players have done wonderfully for a bunch of no-name recruits who nobody gave a chance.

Ackermann is currently negotiating an extension to his contract at the Lions with CEO Rudolf Straeuli and the offer from Japan will place renewed pressure on the Lions to sign their popular coach.

The former Bok lock, who was until recently the oldest Bok when he played his last test at 37, came into the job as assistant to John Mitchell and took over when the former All Black coach fell out with the players and Lions hierarchy.

His agent Gert-Andries van der ­Merwe confirmed to supersport.com that there was an offer, but was mum on the details.

“I was recently in Japan and we did receive an offer from a top club but that is all I can say. I’m not allowed to reveal which one,” Van der Merwe said on the offer.

While Japanese clubs are known for their big spending on players, ­Ackermann may become only the second South African coach to the coach there after Gary Gold this season. Gold is finishing his stay with the defending champion Kobe Steelers before returning to South Africa to take over the coaching at the Sharks.

It is known that Kobe will be looking for a replacement for Gold, but there has been no confirmation that this is the club that has offered Ackermann the position.

Kobe also have former Boks Jaque Fourie and Andries Bekker on their books, both who were also set to move to the Sharks before committing what remains of their careers to the Steelers, thereby negating any chance of either playing in next year’s Rugby World Cup.

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