Lions must learn to adapt

Johan Ackermann says the Golden Lions need to adjust their breakdown approach according to the referee. BRENTON CHELIN reports.

Prior to Saturday's match against the EP Kings, Ackermann spoke of the need to increase their accuracy at the breakdown following a lacklustre performance against Western Province. Although they edged the battle on the ground in Port Elizabeth, Ackermann believes there's still work to be done when it comes to managing the referee in the heat of battle.

'I thought we were a lot better against the Kings and we were unfortunate to get penalised on a couple of occasions,' Ackermann told 'Our interpretations were obviously a bit different than Marius van der Westhuizen's and it's something that we must look at. We must be able to think on our feet and change our approach when we see we're getting penalised.'

Van der Westhuizen has been appointed for this weekend's match against the Blue Bulls at Loftus, and Ackermann will seek out a discussion prior to kick-off.

'We'll speak with him before the game on Saturday and ask that he and his assistants are 100% certain before making a call,' he said.

The Lions raced into a 14-0 lead in Port Elizabeth, but allowed their opponents back into the match after captain Lionel Mapoe saw yellow for entering a maul illegally. Ackermann knows a similar lapse in concentration against the Bulls could prove costly.

'We lost our structure a bit midway through the first half. It was perhaps a mental thing, where we showed a bit of complacency. We can't afford to turn off like that against the Bulls, because we will be punished.'

Flyhalf Jaco van der Walt made his debut in the opening round victory over the Bulls and he looks set to return for this weekend's match.

Derick Minnie is another who looks set to be restored to the starting XV, where he could take over the captaincy from Mapoe.

'We'll decide on that [the captaincy] once we've settled on a team,' said Ackermann. 'It's difficult for a wing to get messages to the ref, so perhaps it's a better option to have someone closer to the action.'

Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix