Lions coach seeks the perfect Super Rugby exit

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Sunday, July 30, 2017    Getty Images

Having seen off a Hurricanes semifinal challenge with a storming second half, the Lions demonstrated their firepower and in what will be Ackermann's last act with the side before he takes up as coach of Gloucester in England the calls have gone out to the Lions' faithful to back their side next week.


"I want to walk away having seen a full Ellis Park. You can't ask for better. To see 60,000 people here would be the ultimate," Ackermann said.

"It feels unreal because it is something I always hoped for, that the day I finish here will be at home in front of our fans. It's been 10 years since I experienced disappointment as a player in a final [when the Sharks were beat by the Bulls in Durban in 2007]."

"Being at home for the Lions is a big factor. They don't have to travel and they've got all this support at home.

"It's pretty huge. We had a few games at home last year and the crowd played a part in bringing you home. There's nothing better.

"They're a quality side and they've got great belief. I'm pretty sure they can go all the way and win the competition.

"They deserve to have a home final and it's going to be a hell of a game next week," he said.

"All we can do is focus on ourselves. We've got a lot of belief. You have to be able to repeat a performance like we had in the semi to be able to have a shot. The belief is always there regardless of who we play."

Having played each other in last year's quarterfinal, when the Lions beat the Crusaders in Johannesburg, Ackermann said that was of little consequence because both sides had changed, and developed in certain areas.

"They showed this season that they are a quality side, then there is their background and history. That's all quality.

"They will be physical and in our faces defensively. We have to have the ability to adapt.

"It's going to boil down to 80 minutes. To refer to last year and what happened then isn't really going to help us. We have to reset, we haven't really achieved anything yet.

"We haven't got a trophy. The challenge for us is to train well and start the week refreshed while being aware we are up against a side that will also fight to the end," he said.

Beaten Hurricanes coach Chris Boyd said: "The team sitting at home, not having to travel certainly has an advantage.

"The Crusaders have different strengths in different areas than we do. Their strengths are more aligned to the strengths of the Lions, I think.

"The guys with the small numbers on their backs are probably going to decide that game. The forward pack that gets the ascendancy will probably win.

"I think it will be a good contest because they've both got very good packs. Despite the fact the Lions play expansive football and score a lot of tries, when it comes down to the real key part of the game it will be around the battle of the packs," he said.