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Thu Apr 24 16:11:37 SAST 2014

Lions appoint Ackermann as new coach

TEAMtalk Media | 26 June, 2012 15:000 Comments
Lions forwards coach Johan Ackermann during the Currie Cup match between the Lions and the Free State Cheetahs at Ellis Park on August 13, 2011 in Johannesburg, South Africa
Image by: Lee Warren / Gallo Images

Former Springbok lock Johan Ackermann has been promoted to caretaker head coach of the Lions, taking over from the suspended John Mitchell.

Mitchell was suspended last Friday after several players expressed their grievances about the former All Black and Western Force mentor's harsh management style.

Golden Lions Rugby Union president Kevin de Klerk had initially said that Ackermann and Carlos Spencer would share the coaching duties but Ackermann has now been elevated to the lead role while Spencer is set to continue as backline coach.

The crisis at Ellis Park is far from over however as the Lions legal team is set to do battle with Mitchell's lawyers in the knowledge that the contracts of Spencer and fitness coach Wayne Taylor are linked to Mitchell's deal.

Should Mitchell be fired, Spencer and Taylor could walk away freely from their contracts, meaning that the union may have to replace most of their coaching staff ahead of the Currie Cup which kicks off in August.

On the training pitch, Ackermann was pleased with the players' energy at their training session in Mitchell's absence.

"Obviously there was uncertainty among the players when they arrived at training (on Monday), but things were back to normal after Kevin spoke to them," Ackermann told Business Day.

"He urged them to put the developments in the last few days behind them and informed the players that the decision was made in their interests after several players had expressed concerns about how things had been done before.

"Obviously it would have been strange for the players not to hear Mitch's voice at training, so it will take a day or two for them to get used to the new arrangement. But I am pleased about the players' attitude and energy at training and it was good to welcome back Franco (van der Merwe) and Elton (Jantjies) from the Bok squad."

The Lions' three remaining Super Rugby fixtures this season see them face the Stormers at Newlands (June 30), the Rebels in Johannesburg (July 7) and the Bulls in Pretoria (July 14).

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Lions appoint Ackermann as new coach

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