Lions still underdogs – Ackermann

Date published: April 3 2014

Johan Ackermann believes the Lions will be the underdogs at Ellis Park despite lying above the Crusaders in the standings.

The Lions may sit above the Crusaders in the Super Rugby standings but coach Johan Ackermann believes his side will still be considered as the underdogs at Ellis Park on Saturday.

The seven-time champions are yet to hit their straps as they languish at the bottom of the table with only two victories to their name so far this season.

The Johannesburg side, in comparison, have surprised all and sundry by how well they adjusted to the pressures of Super Rugby with four victories from six games.

“A few things haven't gone their way and perhaps they are going through a process where they have young players in key positions,” Ackermann said of the Crusaders' bad run in form.

“There is too much talent to write them off and you can't always put your finger on it… why they aren't winning those matches.”

The Lions have so far this season been spared a long-list of injuries – although veteran lock Franco van der Merwe, has an ankle injury that would keep him sidelined for six months – and the bye from the last week has also ensured the return of some players.

“We only have Robbie Coetzee, Michael Bondesio, Franco van der Merwe and Coenie van Wyk out at this stage of the competition – it is not ideal – but it is better than having a list of 10 or 12,” said Ackermann.

“Robbie and Coenie will probably be back next week then we've got even less and we actually only have Franco that is out long-term.

“That is a great situation, if we can keep that up in the next three weeks before we have another bye then we go on tour.”

The Lions are yet to score a bonus point this season for scoring four tries in a match but it was the last of Ackermann's concerns when his side was winning.

“If you give me a 23-20 win, I will take it, it doesn't matter how it comes, a win is a win, it keeps the momentum going forward,” he said.

“The Crusaders are a great attacking side and we like to attack, although things haven't gone our way with the tries this season. We missed a lot of opportunities but we are still a team that want to play exciting rugby and if the weather plays along, we might see a good game on the weekend.”