Ackermann expects Lions to roar at packed Ellis Park

Johan Ackermann expects his Lions side to be fuelled by the agony of their Super Rugby final loss last year when they strive to contain the "X-factor" Crusaders possess in Saturday's showdown at a sold-out Ellis Park.

Lions were denied a first Super Rugby title by Hurricanes in Wellington 12 months ago, but will get another opportunity to get their hands on the trophy this weekend.

Ackermann's men will be roared on by a capacity crowd of 60,000 when they attempt to pull off a historic victory and end a seven-year wait for a South African side to win the competition.

The Lions coach wants the painful memories of missing out last year to drive them on in Johannesburg.

He said: "I trust and believe the guys can look to last year as individuals, what the build up to the game was and the disappointment when the final whistle went.

"They know they're only going to get those 80 minutes to do what they want to do, so that they have no regrets.

"Saying that the team has changed a little bit from last year and the venue has changed. It's great to play everything but in front of our home crowd and instead of the Wellington [Westpac] stadium with its 30 or 35000 fans - now its 60000 people. It is a nice atmosphere, and a nice challenge for us.

"We can just focus on what we can and what we want to achieve. The one thing about any New Zealand side is they can punish you at any time and any mistake they can capitalise on.

"That's why they are known for the running game. But you are right for saying they kick a fair bit, when they need to kick. We can just focus on ourselves, make sure we stay calm and do the things well that we need to do well."

Crusaders have lost only one Super Rugby match this season and Ackermann is well aware of the challenge his side face.

"On paper, if you look at how many All Blacks they have, they're definitely up with the best packs in world rugby." he said.

"But then again, if you play the Chiefs, you know you're in for a tough match. If you play the Hurricanes, the Highlanders - the Highlanders pack is also one that can work hard and can graft.

"They have X-factor there. If you look at the Crusaders pack there, they're definitely a pack that plays together at test level as well. They're a quality pack and they've shown the whole year that they are a quality side.

"Saying that, with the backline they have, there is a lot of X-factor that you have to contain."


Read Full Story