Johan Ackermann: “What we know about the French sides are limited”

Gloucester Rugby Head Coach Johan Ackermann insists his side have the opportunity to overcome last season’s disappointing 25-17 final defeat to Stade Francais.

The 47-year-old believes his side are capable of bettering last season’s heartache but is wary of French opposition.

He said: “I have spoken with David Humphreys about this competition and what we know about the French sides are limited but we know that it’s unpredictable to know what side will turn up, whether it’s a side in devastating form or is it the side that won’t turn up.

“We have to go down there and recover from the trip over but also ultimately play to our standards and look after our own game before we can worry about them too much.

“They have a lot of internationals and quality ones at that with the likes of Conrad smith so we have to improve with the style of rugby that we want to play.”

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The South African praised his side after their 29-24 victory over Northampton Saints at Kingsholm in the Premiership and was adamant that the mind-set of his squad is positive.

He continued: “We have a good record in the competition.

“We’ve got a lot of focus on the teams in our group and especially with the short turn around we have looked into how Pau like to play.

“I am excited to bring a new challenge but also to see new places I haven’t seen and this will give us a lot of opportunity to be closer as a team.

“The good thing is there will be a lot of positive energy and good spirit with confidence. It brings new challenges for myself on a coaching front to be in France for the first time.”

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Ackermann admits that the Cherry and White’s focus is on the game ahead and isn’t looking too far forward in the competition.

He added: “The reality is that we have to start well in the competition and take it week by week but I trust that there is disappointment from last year’s final as many of us have experienced.

“We have an opportunity to rectify last season’s result, not only in Europe but in the Premiership too.”

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