Rugby 25.7.2016 04:11 pm

Ackers: Home is where the heart is

Lions coach Johan Ackermann. Picture: Gallo Images

Lions coach Johan Ackermann. Picture: Gallo Images

The Lions coach has asked the fans to pack the rafters of Ellis Park for their semi against the Highlanders, as filling the iconic stadium was always his big goal.

With the Lions having reached the Super Rugby semifinals the first time in their history, they will need all the support as they welcome the defending champions the Highlanders to the Ellis Park fortress on Saturday.

Lions coach Johan Ackermann explained what it means to be playing at home, and he has countlessly stated that he wants to make the supporters proud again of their team, ever since he first took over the reins some four years back.

“The crowd’s support was the reason why we aimed at playing at home,” said Ackermann after the excellent 42-25 win over the seven-time champions last weekend.

“That’s part of the advantage we got, the fact that the guys can stay in the same routine, stay at home and be in change rooms that they are familiar with,” he said.

“A big part of that is the support, and we want to thank the supporters who came out, but we need more this weekend.

“We really want to see if we can fill the stadium – it really helps the team and makes it very tough for visiting sides,” he said.

In recent seasons the Lions have hosted both the 2011 and 2015 Currie Cup finals in front of capacity crowds and won both against the Sharks and Western Province, respectively.

While only 30 138 supporters attended the Crusaders game, the Lions Rugby Union released figures yesterday underlining their prices compare favourably with other unions and are, for instance, lower than what the Stormers charged for their quarterfinal last weekend, while this is a semifinal, and the prices didn’t increase by much since the quarterfinal.

Prices start at R80 for seats behind the goalposts and go up to R350 for seats on the main stand. In comparison, the Stormers charged R395 for tickets on their grandstand, while the semifinal is a higher-graded occasion.

Kickoff is at 3pm.

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