Johan Ackermann faces silection dilemma ahead of final Gallagher Premiership game
Gloucester , United Kingdom - 11 January 2019; Danny Cipriani of Gloucester, left, and head coach Johan Ackermann prior to the Heineken Champions Cup Pool 2 Round 5 match between Gloucester and Munster at Kingsholm Stadium in Gloucester, England. (Photo By Seb Daly/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Following Gloucester’s 28-19 victory over the Newcastle Falcons, head coach Johan Ackermann gave his thoughts on the relegation-promotion scenario for his club. Ackermann spoke to media looking ahead to the final Gallagher Premiership game against Sale and spoke briefly on the injury to Ed Slater.

Any win will do

It wasn’t a vintage performance at times but Gloucester dug deep and Johan Ackermann was pleased with his players efforts. “Any win is a good win, it wasn’t pretty and there was a lot of mistakes. We lost this fixture last year and missed the playoffs.

“This year was a step in the right direction by winning this fixture and making sure we got into the playoffs. There were a lot of positives but it was a difficult game.

“As much as we wanted the players to play at our standards we can’t hide around the fact the players know we’re in the playoffs, so there’s not a lot of pressure on the game other than we want to make it a home victory and do it for the fans.”

Ackermann then added, “That will drive you a lot but I think that urgency and intensity we’re used to playing with lacked but let’s not take it away and look at one or two weeks, let’s look at the whole season.”

Johan Ackermann praises ‘whole club effort’

The players have taken huge praise this season and rightfully so but Johan Ackermann wanted to praise the entire Gloucester staff for their contribution.

Ackermann explained, “I’m proud of everyone’s input. The backroom staff looking after the players, the ground staff, the coaching staff and the players”.

“It didn’t seem like two weeks ago that we spoke about the first game and no we’re at the end”. In his debut season in the Premiership, it is one that can only be seen as a success.

Gloucester prepared for toughest task yet

It’s been a great season so far for Gloucester and head coach Johan Ackermann says they’re prepared for the toughest task yet. They meet Sale Sharks in their final Gallagher Premiership game this weekend.

The toughest task ahead will be in facing either Saracens or Exeter, noting that “We’ve achieved Heineken Cup qualification and now the playoffs. Now, we must enjoy that and embrace that.

“It doesn’t matter who we play, they’re the two best sides in the country, no doubt. We’ve just got to go out and give it a shot.”

Gloucester’s squad rotation dilemma

Johan Ackermann has a few injuries and niggles to deal with but having already sealed the third playoff berth, the South African coach faces the choice over whether to rest players for Sale or play them to keep momentum.

He said, “We can debate the next two weeks a lot in terms of what do you do with the Sale game. Do you go as strong as you can or rest players. If you don’t perform in the semi-final, either way you’re going to think about your decision.

“We’ll make a collective decision, look at each player, where they are in their game and the biggest thing for us is that there’s progress. On the day we can put out a 23 that can compete, why not.

“We know the task is going to be massive. We’ll bridge Sale and see what we’re going to do. Regardless at what we do we only have one shot.”

Ed Slater injury update ahead of final Gallagher Premiership game

To the despair of Glaws’ fans, Ed Slater was taken off early in the game. He went straight down to the tunnel and would play no further place in the fixture. Gladly, his replacements did an admirable job so, following the match, Johan Ackermann updated the press on Slater’s situation.

He said, “he’s sore, but it’s early days to say what exactly the extent of his injury is. It’s definitely an AC joint injury so he needs to get scanned and determine what the next step is.

“Ed has been in great form so it’s a loss, but there’s time to get him ready.”

Johan Ackermann not a big fan of relegation

Looking back over his brief tenure in the Premiership and discussing the relegation topic the head coach explained, “I’ve seen it in the years I’ve been here, how good this league is. If you look at what Bristol did, you can’t do that if you haven’t got a competitive squad and that’s how good this competition is.

“The reality is any side can beat anyone. That’s the tough thing to see, to see a side like Newcastle drop out. It’s only my view but I don’t like the promotion-relegation.”

Giving his thoughts on how relegation and promotion should be handled Ackermann told the press, “You need at least three or four seasons as a squad together and then even if you do go into promotion and relegation it needs to be a home and away playoff. You don’t know what happens in a season with injuries or one or two bad calls.”

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Next up, is the clubs final Gallagher Premiership game. Their round 22 clash is a step towards playoff rugby, but must still be fully focused upon.

Sale Sharks v Gloucester – Saturday, May 18. AJ Bell Stadium.

 

“Main photo credit”

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