Menu superrugby.co.nz

News

Different feeling for coach's son

Getty Images

Tuesday, August 1, 2017    Getty Images

The nature of that type of contest is appealing in itself – the old versus the new, the upstart versus the old hand and behind it all the rivalry between rugby nations, South Africa and New Zealand.

QUICK TAP: FORMER ALL BLACK APPOINTED COACH OF HIGHLANDERS

One Lions player has a special interest in the outcome. He's No.8 Ruan Ackermann, the son of coach Johan Ackermann who ends his association with the side after the final before moving to English premiership club Gloucester.

"All the players are feeling it a bit and there will be a lot of emotions going through as we get closer to the game, but for me it's a little different," he told sport24.co.za.

"I'm not only going to have to say goodbye to me coach, but my dad as well.

"We all certainly want to make sure we can give him the perfect send-off, but he's already said to us that whatever happens on Saturday is not the be-all and end-all. He's told us he is proud of what we have achieved and all he wants is for us to go out there and play, and enjoy it," he said.

Ackermann has had extra responsibility with the side this year while filling in for injured Springbok captain Warren Whiteley.

Normally a flanker, Ackermann has been helped in making the adjustment by Whiteley.
"Filling the shoes of the captain was always going to be a big challenge. And while play at No.8 is not all that different there are changes from what I would normally do at No.7, but I can't say enough about Warren and how he's helped me.

"He's guided me at training, helping with the little things that you only realise when you play in a certain position for a long time," he said.

That places a little more pressure on him in Saturday's final when his opponent is the All Blacks captain Kieran Read.

"Can you believe it, up against the All Blacks captain? That's why we respect the Crusaders so much, they've got class players in every position," he said.

"I actually don't think it has hit home what's coming on Saturday. I think it'll start sinking in on Friday and then, obviously on Saturday morning. Right now, we're just thankful we've got this chance after losing the final last year.

"It's the dream final isn't it? It's going to be so special, a match between a South African team and a New Zealand team in front of a huge crowd at one of the best stadiums in the world.

"I don't think anyone must take this match for granted…it's us against the best team to have ever featured in the competition. We must embrace the opportunity because it's going to be big," he said.