Ackermann said he has no choice but to work with the current group who bowed out in the Currie Cup semifinals to Western Province at the weekend. “Unless somebody gives me a lot of money,” he added jokingly.
“These guys will have to grow into that role, while we did sign scrumhalf Ricky Schroeder and wing Courtnall Skhosana.” Ackermann said another problem was the cut-off deadline which had fallen before they had secured promotion against the Kings.
“The transfer window’s cut-off date was set at August 3 and by then we haven’t even played the promotion-relegation matches to confirm our status which further complicated matters,” he said. “So we basically had to take what was available.”
A further blow was Brumbies lock Etienne Oosthuizen’s decision not to return to the Lions but to follow Jake White to the Sharks. But Ackermann said his group had shown some growth and maturity in challenging times, while a lot of injured players have still to come back.
“There are a lot of guys that must still come into the system. Obviously we can add fullback Ruan Combrinck, and centres Dylan des Fountain and Alwyn Hollenbach who are coming back from injury,” he said. Then there is scrumhalf Michael Bondesio, lock Martin Muller, who hasn’t even played since joining them from Griquas, and wing Deon van Rensburg.
Ackermann highlighted the names of hooker Robbie Coetzee, prop Jacques van Rooyen, lock Chris van Zyl, flyhalf/fullback Marnitz Boshoff, wing/fullback Chrysander Botha, centre Robert de Bruyn and wing Anthony Volmink, left, as players who must carry the Lions flag next year.
“Those guys must all still play Super Rugby and there are a lot of guys who are injured and haven’t played Super Rugby before. “There are a lot of guys who join us for their first pre-season, and they are going to need it to get them physically to the level that we want them at,” he said.