JOHANNESBURG - The Lions have finally ended all the speculation around who will replace the outgoing Johan Ackermann as head coach, with his trusted assistant Swys de Bruin chosen on Tuesday.
The 57-year-old De Bruin’s appointment has been a long time coming, as he was last a senior provincial head coach with Griquas in 2003.
He has had to bide his time since as the head coach of the Sharks Academy for many years, and then as the backline and assistant coach to Ackermann at the Lions since 2013.
De Bruin is highly regarded in South African rugby circles for his ability to “get a backline going”, and is someone who encourages players to be creative in trying to unlock opposition defences.
His mantra has shone through in the Lions’ play over the last few years at Super Rugby, where they have set the standard for the South African sides on attack and been the only real challengers to the New Zealand teams.
“The Company is pleased to announce that De Bruin has put pen to paper for the position of head coach at the Lions,” CEO Rudolf Straeuli said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We believe it will bring continuity and stability within the different teams in the various competitions that we are taking part in.”
De Bruin added that he was grateful to the Lions for the chance to be in charge of both the franchise and provincial teams once Ackermann leaves at the end of the Super Rugby competition.
“I am thankful for the trust the board of directors put in me, and look forward to the challenge. For now, we are still totally focused on our campaign in the 2017 Super Rugby season,” he said.
The Lions top the South African conference and are chasing the overall top spot on the log, but it all depends on whether the Hurricanes can beat the Crusaders in Wellington on Saturday. The Johannesburg-based team then have to ensure that they knock over the Sharks in Durban.
The Lions also announced a whole group of players who have agreed to remain with team going forward, with the only noticeable name missing being fiery hooker Akker van der Merwe.
Lions contracted players:
Warren Whiteley, Kwagga Smith, Andries Coetzee, Andries Ferreira (renewed), Anthony Volminck, Aphiwe Dyantyi, Corné Fourie, Courtnall Skosan (renewed), Cyle Brink, Dillon Smit (renewed), Dylan Smith, Elton Jantjies, Franco Mostert, Harold Vorster, Howard Mnisi, Jaco Kriel, Jaco van der Walt (renewed), Jacques van Rooyen (renewed), Johannes Jonker, Justin Ackerman (renewed), Lionel Mapoe (renewed), Lourens Erasmus, Malcolm Marx (renewed), Marvin Orie, Robbie Coetzee, Rohan Janse van Rensburg, Ross Cronjé, Ruan Ackermann, Ruan Combrinck, Ruan Dreyer, Shaun Reynolds, Sti Sithole, Sylvian Mahuza (renewed).