It’s almost unimaginable that a team would continue to play entertaining rugby when it comes to tense affairs like Super Rugby playoffs or a final, like in the case of this weekend, when the Hurricanes host the showpiece against the Lions.
But Lions coach Johan Ackermann said the attacking mindset of last weekend’s semifinal win over the Highlanders would also be the way they would approach the final, even though it’s their first opportunity to get a hand on the coveted trophy.
“I believe that’s what the guys are standing for, they knew I would back them and the goal was always set to play an exciting brand of rugby and to play for the audience of One,” said Ackermann.
“And that’s the goals we are aiming for, to play attractive brand and to inspire people and as long as we can keep that in mind we are just going to enjoy the game out there,” he said.
“Will we make the wrong decision sometimes? Yes. But the attitude of the guys are that we all go down with a fight and it worked for us the last two weeks,” he said.
Ackermann said he was well aware that they had shifted the goal posts as far as it came to low-risk approaches normally associated with a final.
“Finals are normally close encounters with a lack of tries being scored, but credit to the NZ sides, they also want to play and that is what makes it so enjoyable from a neutral prospective, I suppose, and not from a coach’s angle,” he said.
The last time the Lions boarded a flight in New Zealand it had to be turned around before their final tour match against the Highlanders back in round three.
“The last time it was a difficult flight but this time we know where we are going and the guys are familiar with the flight routine. And hopefully we’ll settle in quickly and get over the travelling, then it’s basically just down to those 80 minutes of rugby.”
Ackermann said he would probably never know whether they had potentially given up the right to host the final by sending a B-team to Argentina for their final pool game.
“I’ll probably will have to live with that, that was a decision we made at the time but the question still remained whether we would have won the last two weeks had I 10 tired players from that travel and get ill,” he said.
“So I don’t know what’s right or wrong, but this group has got my back I do believe and we don’t want it easy, we have to go and win over there, and then that’s what we need to do,” he said.