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Johann Ackermann ready to walk out on club to make return

By Neil Fissler
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Johan Ackermann admits that he could return to South Africa at the end of the season despite having another year left to run on his contract with Japan Rugby League One Division Two leaders Urayasu D-Rocks.


Ackermann, 53, last worked in South Africa in 2017, when he left the Lions after a four-year stint to move to Gloucester and has told Rapport he has an option to leave Japan and that it could be time for him to seek a new challenge and return home.

“My contract only ends in a year, but I have an option to move at the end of the current season if there is another opportunity that I would prefer.

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“It would be nice to be in South Africa again, but of course, that’s if there’s an opportunity, and also everything that goes with it,” said the former Springbok lock.

Ackermann is one of the highest-profile, highly-rated South African coaches working around the world with Franco Smith (Glasgow Warriors), Johann van Graan (Bath), and Heyneke Meyer (Houston Sabercasts).

He has been in Japan since leaving Gloucester for the Red Hurricanes Osaka in 2020 before joining Urayasu D-Rock last year and is currently attempting to lead them back into the Japanese top flight.

They are currently top of the Division Two table with 42 points, five clear of Green Rockets Tokatsu and eight points ahead of third-placed Toyota Industries Corporation Shuttles Aichi.


However, he could have a problem because there is a lack of attractive jobs in South Africa, and Rassie Erasmus, who has the biggest job of them all, is under contract until 2027.

Ackermann has been mentioned as a possible future Springbok coach but is likely to see out his lucrative deal in Japan before looking at his options in 12 months.

Ackermann’s back-row son Ruan – who has represented South Africa A – is still at Gloucester.



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Jon 1 days ago
Why Sam Cane's path to retirement is perfect for him and the All Blacks

> It would be best described as an elegant solution to what was potentially going to be a significant problem for new All Blacks coach Scott Robertson. It is a problem the mad population of New Zealand will have to cope with more and more as All Blacks are able to continue their careers in NZ post RWCs. It will not be a problem for coaches, who are always going to start a campaign with the captain for the next WC in mind. > Cane, despite his warrior spirit, his undoubted commitment to every team he played for and unforgettable heroics against Ireland in last year’s World Cup quarter-final, was never unanimously admired or respected within New Zealand while he was in the role. Neither was McCaw, he was considered far too passive a captain and then out of form until his last world cup where everyone opinions changed, just like they would have if Cane had won the WC. > It was never easy to see where Cane, or even if, he would fit into Robertson’s squad given the new coach will want to be building a new-look team with 2027 in mind. > Cane will win his selections on merit and come the end of the year, he’ll sign off, he hopes, with 100 caps and maybe even, at last, universal public appreciation for what was a special career. No, he won’t. Those returning from Japan have already earned the right to retain their jersey, it’s in their contract. Cane would have been playing against England if he was ready, and found it very hard to keep his place. Perform, and they keep it however. Very easy to see where Cane could have fit, very hard to see how he could have accomplished it choosing this year as his sabbatical instead of 2025, and that’s how it played out (though I assume we now know what when NZR said they were allowing him to move his sabbatical forward and return to NZ next year, they had actually agreed to simply select him for the All Blacks from overseas, without any chance he was going to play in NZ again). With a mammoth season of 15 All Black games they might as well get some value out of his years contract, though even with him being of equal character to Richie, I don’t think they should guarantee him his 100 caps. That’s not what the All Blacks should be about. He absolutely has to play winning football.

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