Rudolph Jacobs
Rugby Journalist
2 minute read
31 Jul 2018
6:57 pm

Final isn’t going to be all about Elton, says Ackers

Rudolph Jacobs

The man who masterminded two Lions marches towards a Super Rugby showpiece understands the hype around the two flyhalves but it won't solely determine the outcome.

Coach Johan Ackermann comforting Jaco Kriel after losing to the Crusaders during the Super Rugby Final match between Emirates Lions and Crusaders at Emirates Airline Park on August 05, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Gallo Images)

It’s a certainty like death and taxes that games such as the Super Rugby final this weekend between the Lions and Crusaders will be dominated by talk of the key role of the flyhalves.

But the man who masterminded the Lions’ journey to their first two finals, Johan Ackermann, believes it’s never that simple.

ALSO READ: Five of Elton Jantjies’ key thoughts before the final

Indeed, Elton Jantjies and Richie Mo’unga’s duel is expected to be a highlight, but that’s not where the game will be decided.

“Like any team, the Crusaders would want to apply pressure on the No 10. The Lions though would also want to do that,” said Ackermann, currently head coach of English side Gloucester.

“That’s why the two sides focus so much on having a good pack of forwards. Not only do they lay a platform for their flyhalves, it also helps to protect them against the pressure that’s going to be exerted.”

As a result, the weekend’s showpiece will be decided in an unfashionable manner – up front.

“While the backs might score the decisive try, it will be about which pack dominates the advantage line, handles the pressure the best and succeeds in giving their backs the best platform,” said Ackermann.

“It will be a titanic battle, I’ve got no doubt. It’s the two teams who have played the most exciting brand of rugby.”

There’s been criticism, notably from New Zealand, about the merits of the Lions having made it this far, especially given the fact that they lost seven of their 16 matches.

Yet that’s just how the flawed conference system works.

“There has been an endless debate about the number of games the Lions have lost and whether they deserve to be in this position. They’ve bounced back superbly,” said Ackermann.

“Personally, it almost feels like justice that the Lions get another chance to reverse the result against the team who beat them at home in the final last year.”

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