TODAY |

Opinion: Luck juggling Highlanders given taste of air travel karma

If planes ever crossed paths close enough the Chiefs players could wave over to their Highlanders counterparts as they head home eastward - then snigger to themselves en route back to New Zealand.

Who has the better deal is one for another discussion but isn't it odd that the defending champions earned more competition points than the Chiefs yet have to travel roughly 20 hours for their semifinal.

That's 20 hours one way and two flights later when departing from Sydney. A return airborne journey of 40 plus hours for 80 minutes of rugby.

'Suck it up' says the 100m sprinter who false starts in his Olympic heats.

'Suck it up' says the Sunwolves, Jaguares and the South African teams.

Maybe they have a point or maybe Super Rugby is odd by world sporting standards and the ludicrous seeding system just makes it even quirkier and bizarre. 

True, the Chiefs have just done their safari but they came sixth in the conference, the Highlanders fifth; they got the cruisy gig to Canberra.

Could it be that the Highlanders should be grateful to be here at all? They dodged a bullet in Canberra and Stephen Larkham knows it.

They were the better, more equipped team against the Brumbies but should've lost.

Elliot Dixon should've been yellow carded for his blatant no arms shoulder barge, the cameras showed every angle except the money shot for the TMO and Angus Gardiner as referee was in la-la-land throughout.

Aaron Smith had to remind him how many minutes constituted a footy match.

Gardiner kept on berating and warning Stephen Moore for his team's ill-discipline forgetting the fact that within a few phases of a break-out, the Highlanders readily killed off any Brumbies attacking momentum. 

Fish and chip paper now, the Highlanders will know they got away with one and will need to up-the-ante big time to stay alive in 2016. It's inevitable they will front in Johannesburg and it will be open high-scoring action.

To the organisers credit, one positive has emerged from the convolution and that is that the four best teams in 2016 have indeed filtered through; by accident or design.

The Crusaders weren't good enough or alive enough to win and this writer is prepared to eat humble pie after suggesting Johan Ackermann's rest and rotation decision was daft.

Full credit to him, he made the right call but the Crusaders were poor from the kick-off unlike the Chiefs who came out of the box frothing.

Kieran Read was a non-entity by his own standards, Israel Dagg was inaccurate and the midfield defence was woeful to name a few deficiencies.

Rohan Janse Van Rensburg turned Richie Mo'unga into a pancake a few times and Sam Whitelock was not well - the man almost always does 80 minutes unless he's half-dead or his team's not scheduled to play.

The Lions are a threat - hands down - and with the eye patch off, a final in Wellington will be more tense for it. Imagine a Kiwi team NOT winning this year's title.

The Hurricanes completely deserve to be favourites as they put the hammer down at the right time and for those Highlanders, perhaps the trip to South Africa is karma.

Just like we down here feel the South African teams should experience and endure a trip to New Zealand for their Super Rugby credibility, perhaps it can now go both ways.

Hurricanes CEO Avan Lee says his team isn't taking travel fatigue in to account against the Chiefs for their Super Rugby semi this weekend. Source: Breakfast