With the sands of time running out before Saturday’s Super Rugby final against the Hurricanes in Wellington, the Lions are faced with a big hometown support in New Zealand.
Lions coach Johan Ackermann said on Thursday while the final was a sell-out, there was also big support building in both the local newspapers and the local community to unite behind their Hurricanes squad.
“I do believe the guys had a few hours to walk around town, but this is where the guys’ honesty and loyalty is so great, we don’t have to look after them or play policemen over them,” said Ackermann.
“But where we go to the gym etc the locals are saying it’s going to be a massive game and shouting ‘Go Hurricanes’ and of course they are also passionate about their side.”
The Westpac Stadium, known as the “Cake Tin”, holds 34 500 people and every single ticket has been sold.
“Supporters over here were disappointed that the tickets were sold out in just four minutes so there’s been big support so we expect a big crowd who mostly won’t support you. But I told the players we played in numerous stadiums like the Sharks or the Bulls, where you have to win away from home during the competition, and that’s what we have to do again,” said Ackermann.
The weather has been a big talking point and while the Lions haven’t experienced severe conditions, the prospects of a wet final with a maximum 4 degrees Celcius has been predicted.
“At this time we can’t complain and for some or other reason the sun has been shining for the last 2-3 days, so that’s great and against all odds, so it’s been good weather, at times it will rain in the morning but then clear up before training. It’s been chilly but the wind is the biggest factor, there’s quite a strong wind every day, but there was no rain and the little bit there was cleared up quite quickly, hopefully just for that 80 minutes on Saturday we will have a clear day where it just becomes a beautiful evening with the rain cleared.”
Earlier in the season however the Lions produced solid performances when they played both the Blues and the Sharks in wet conditions.
“There obviously will be a bit of wind because this place is quite renowned for its wind, but we have experienced similar conditions when we played the Blues. And the guys will adapt and they will still play with that freedom and express themselves, and it will be the same conditions obviously for both sides,” Ackermann said.