Rugby 19.3.2017 05:43 pm

Super Rugby Reaction (W)Rap: Lions primed to lose beloved Ackers

Is Johan Ackermann gradually priming us for his farewell from the Lions? Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images.

Is Johan Ackermann gradually priming us for his farewell from the Lions? Photo: Christiaan Kotze/Gallo Images.

Want some reaction from all the local Super Rugby sides’ decision-makers after the weekend’s play? Find it all here in one spot!

The Lions made it look easy against the Reds in a 44-14 win.

Given a harsh lesson taught by the Jaguares the previous week, Johan Ackermann’s troops’ performance this weekend suggests that was perhaps merely a blip on the radar.

The Lions still look stable and formidable, which means their most pressing issue is the future of their coach.

In contrast, there are still questions over rivals – the Bulls and Sharks – who continue to be plagued by mistakes.

All indications are Johan Ackermann is saying ‘farewell’

When the Lions mentor earlier this week revealed he had indeed been offered a new role at English club Gloucester, many were left shocked.

But they also could’ve held hope because Ackermann, a man of integrity, would definitely evaluate his decision thoroughly.

However, those hopes are becoming smaller.

Following the win over the Reds, Ackermann again strongly hinted he’s leaving.

“The question for me is: where do I see my next challenge?” he said.

“Do I want to coach in Super Rugby for another three or four seasons and believe that will be the best for me as a coach? Or do I leave this place in a good space and I test myself in Europe to grow?”

He has, after all, been the Lions’ coach for six years now.

“To walk away from this is not easy, it’s not a quick decision.”

 A long three weeks await the Bulls on the road

The Bulls make no secret of the fact that they want to follow the same road as the Lions.

Coach Nollis Marais has developed a new blueprint but the gains have been limited.

He’s been at the helm since 2015’s Currie Cup now and still his players are making basic mistakes.

“We are making too many mistakes, that is why we are struggling to gain momentum,” said Marais after a 34-21 win over the Sunwolves.

“We should have killed them off before half-time. I agree that there are a lot of things that need improving but I feel we are on the correct path.”

The Bulls also can’t afford poor discipline from senior players like Renaldo Bothma’s red card.

He’s suspended for four weeks.

“The red card killed us in the second half because you can defend how many times you want, there will be space somewhere,” said Marais.

The Blues and Chiefs will have a field day if that happens again.

Sharks hope they got a wake-up call

Robert du Preez sounded like a man trying to keep his emotions in check as his side limped to a 19-17 victory over the lowly Kings.

It was a really poor performance, one “where we did everything we said we needed to avoid during training”.

The Sharks have still won three on the trot but they go to Bloemfontein this week before a meeting with the Lions –  a game that could determine the outcome of their conference.

“I’m definitely hoping this is a wake-up call,” said Du Preez.

“We almost seemed to take a step backwards in this game. But I’m confident the boys will be better, especially after they made so many basic handling errors. That’s not good enough. At least we have four more log points going into the next game, that’s the most important thing.”

Brave Kings simply don’t have enough tricks

It would be an injustice to say the embattled Kings didn’t deserve better from their narrow loss in Durban – flyhalf Lionel Cronje missed a long range penalty that could’ve sealed a remarkable win.

Yet if that had happened, they would’ve won because the Sharks were bad, not by their own doing.

The Kings fed off scraps in this game and still didn’t really create much play.

“Our discipline cost us. It was a defining factor in this game,” said coach Deon Davids.

“It also didn’t help that we didn’t kick all that well. It meant we were playing too much rugby in our own half.”

That, however, plasters over the real crack: the Kings might not quite be good enough.

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