TODAY |

Opinion: The Lions winning could be the best thing for Super Rugby

Long suffering Hurricanes fans won't hear a word of it but the Lions winning this weekend's Super Rugby final could be the best thing since grated cheese for the competition.

The way the results have panned out, this is the dream final.

As recent as three weeks ago, Super Rugby was doomed as we knew it.

The Kiwi teams were too good, there was too much dead weight and the title was a four horse race down here in the Shaky Isles.

We parentally patted the Blues on the back as they fought gallantly to reach the lofty heights of the other four pacesetters. Good boys we said as we handed the 'most improved' trophy over.

Some thought we could just have our own competition, perhaps let the Aussies in. We were after all, good enough on our own.

That belief was still strong until about 7am last Sunday after the Lions (who everyone acknowledged as valid conference winners) belted the Crusaders.

The Highlanders were going to win yesterday morning too but with a sage word of caution for those wanting a flutter - it'd be 12 and under.

Forget travel excuses, the two South Island teams were punished and not through some high altitude exhaustion, it was from the first minutes and they couldn't catch up. Why?

This Lions team is good, seriously good and they are playing a high-octane, high-torque game.

Impressed with the Lions' form, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen is predicting a huge battle on Saturday. Source: 1 NEWS

They've taken the South African rugby DNA and spiced it up a bit with some 15-man New Zealand theory. 

It's clinical, muscular, simple but sophisticated. They do the basics exceptionally well, are superbly drilled and made candyfloss out of the competition's best defence and defending champs.

All this with a belief that has been missing in South African teams for the past few years. 

They don't think they are good enough, they know they are.

Behind the good natured and ultra-respectful Johan Ackermann, there's a point to prove.

He has our attention because God forbid (and Ackermann is highly religious) they have the game to beat the Canes.

The Hurricanes and All Blacks flanker excited to play in the Super Rugby final after missing last year's through injury. Source: 1 NEWS

The pressure on the in-form Hurricanes team is huge because they have the expectations of the country on them now.

In the frenzy of rugby self-love in the past few months, we've left ourselves vulnerable and like the days before live TV we don't know much about the opposition. Have we tried?

Could it be we have became slightly arrogant from our apathy of the other conferences? Introverted because of the local success and substance?

Are we realising the dangers of dominance?

The intrigue and tension for Saturday's final has stepped up a notch because a Kiwi team could come second. A month ago, it was which Kiwi teams would contest the final.

Parochial fans would feel the highs and lows yet for many neutrals, two Kiwi teams in the final would've been a ho-hum, win-win situation with no real joy or emotional attachment. 

Overall, for the health of the competition, this final match-up is immensely vital and to have the engagement of the South African rugby followers (where the cash comes from) gives Super Rugby a nice little adrenalin shot in the bicep that needs a few more reps.

The Hurricanes' coach spoke about the desire to erase last year's finals hurt with a win in next week’s final.

Our old rival (in Lions clothing) is coming to town and the competition is better for it.