Lions coach opts for continuity

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iol spt apr10 Ackermann Gallo Images Lions coach Johan Ackermann took a more conciliatory approach when he announced his team for their Super Rugby match against the Sharks. Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Gallo Images

Johannesburg – Lions coach Johan Ackermann took a more conciliatory approach when he announced his team for their Super Rugby match against the Sharks at Ellis Park in Johannesburg on Saturday.

This was in stark contrast to a visibly upset Ackermann, who lambasted his players for their 28-7 defeat to the Crusaders at the same venue last weekend.

Instead of making wholesale changes, the former Springbok lock stuck with continuity.

In the only change to the starting XV, Ackermann has called on a fit-again Derick Minnie – who will give his side added impetus at the breakdown area – in the place of Jaco Kriel.

“I'm glad for Derick to be back. He was disappointed after losing out earlier in the competition, but it's a great time to have him back,” Ackermann said in Johannesburg on Thursday.

“We go into these kind of games where we need this kind of experience. He's a breakdown specialist, he's a guy that has a lot of caps behind him.

“He's a great asset to the team. Derick is hungry as well and we need players to light up that fire again and hopefully he'll give that to us.”

Ackermann pointed out that Kriel had been replaced to give him a rest as part of a rotational strategy.

The Lions coach said while it was tempting to make sweeping changes following their defeat, he had decided against this as he believed the players deserved a second chance.

“You look at the game again, then you think, do you have to change the team?” he said.

“You also have to give credit to the guys in the games where they did well, so it's just fair to give the players another go and to back them.”

Ackermann added that he was more disappointed by the team's performance in general, as he believed his side could have cause an upset against the Crusaders.

He said the team had done some introspection and he was confident they would be able to atone for last weekend's mistakes.

“We've worked on that and obviously we've discussed ways to get out of our half. This morning we worked a bit on the breakdown, which was a concern,” he said.

“Hopefully our physical but also mental preparation will be better because we are playing the leading side in Super Rugby.”

In their first meeting in Durban last month, the Sharks outplayed the visiting Lions 37-23.

The hosts will be desperate for a positive result in their final home match before they take on the Stormers in Cape Town and then leave on a tour of Australasia.

Lions team: Andries Coetzee, Deon van Rensburg, Lionel Mapoe, Stefan Watermeyer, Courtnall Skosan, Marnitz Boshoff, Faf de Klerk, Warren Whiteley (captain), Willie Britz, Derick Minnie, Franco Mostert, Martin Muller, Julian Redelinghuys, Willie Wepener, Schalk van der Merwe.

Replacements: Robbie Coetzee, Corne Fourie, Ruan Dreyer, MB Lusaseni, Jaco Kriel, Ross Cronje, Elton Jantjies, Alwyn Hollenbach. – Sapa



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