Johannesburg – The Lions Super Rugby pre-season preparations are in full swing and head coach Johan Ackermann says he is happy with the squad's progress so far.

“The guys are showing a lot of enthusiasm and the whole squad has a real sense of energy,” Ackermann said on Tuesday.

“We all know that a massive challenge lies ahead but the players are working hard to ensure we succeed.”

The Lions training group will attend a three-day camp starting on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming Super Rugby warm-up fixtures.

“I think one of the most important aspects of the training camp is for the newly-signed players and those players on loan to get to know each other a bit better and establish stronger relationships,” Ackermann said.

“Obviously team building is crucial ahead of Super Rugby, but the camp will also be a time for us to sit down as a group and establish our core set of missions, aims and values for the upcoming competition.”

The Lions medical team had worked hard to reduce the number of injured players in the squad and continued to manage a small number of individuals involved in rehabilitation. Ackermann said he was thrilled with the progress all injured players had made.

“There has been a great deal of growth and improvement by all the injured players that are a part of our group.

“While we have a few niggles in the camp, the players involved are working hard and are positive. We are very happy with their progress and are looking forward to the warm-up matches, where we will be able to measure ourselves.”

The Lions host the Leopards in Johannesburg on January 24th, travel to Port Elizabeth to face the Kings on February 1st and will also meet the Sharks on February 7th at Ellis Park.

The Super Rugby squad will be announced on January 30th. – Sapa