Kriel: Ackermann is simply the best
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Lions captain and flank Jaco Kriel believes that former Lions coach Johan Ackermann is amongst the greatest coaches in the world.
Ackermann's appointment back in 2013, saw the mentor take the previously Super Rugby relegated side the Lions to one of the best teams in South Africa in the modern era.
The Johannesburg-based franchise is only the second South African side to feature in back-to-back Super Rugby finals.
Ackermann's final task as head coach saw the side suffered a heartbreaking 17-25 defeat to the Crusaders, but his tremendous work will forever be in the heart of his players.
Ackermann will be leaving for England on Wednesday where he is set to begin his work as head coach of Premiership side Gloucester.
Kriel explained the massive impact which Ackermann has made - not only on his playing career, but also in his approach towards life.
"Coach has been like a father to me, his a mentor, his one of the greatest coaches I’ve met in my career and his taught me so much," Kriel told reporters after the Super Rugby Final.
"I said after the game it was never about winning or losing, it was about glorifying God and I really believed we inspired people.
"We are really going to miss him," Kriel added.
Ackermann and the Lions have shared a special journey.
The coach and team are an inseparable symbol of working together to achieve dreams and will be forever be remembered for their resilience on the pitch.
The coach has witness young Lions players develop into the best possible versions of themselves on and off the field.
The mentor has always focussed on growth and evolving, and regards the growth of the team as his highlight at the Lions.
"Just to look back at where we were 2014. A lot of guys left the union and we got together as a new group and grew. And that growth of the team is the highlight," Ackermann said.
"I think we all coach to get the players to the best possible position and most of all seeing these men become real quality players and people was amazing.
"A lot of them got married, a lot of them got children now and to just see them become real adults and how they treat life.
"It truly was a great journey,"
By Josh Isaacson