The Press

Lions don’t scare ’Canes

- HAMISH BIDWELL

Can the Lions play any worse than that? Can the Hurricanes, for that matter.

The complete absence of New Zealand exposure in 2017 makes the Lions hard to read. But the assumption is that their 14-1 record this season flatters them enormously.

Sunday’s come-frombehind 23-21 quarterfin­al win over the Sharks was certainly unimpressi­ve and the charitable will claim they won’t be that bad again. Others might suggest that’s the Lions’ level.

We’ll know for sure come Sunday morning (NZT), once the Hurricanes have made their seminal final appearance at Ellis Park. Until then, the 50-17 win the Hurricanes enjoyed in Johannesbu­rg last year is probably the most reliable yardstick. Friday’s 35-16 quarterfin­al win over the Brumbies was a good outcome for the Hurricanes.

By head coach Chris Boyd’s own admission, the performanc­e was poor. People were impatient and inaccurate and allowed the Brumbies to impose themselves physically, Boyd said.

There are any number of reasons why the Hurricanes will want to play well in South Africa; not least because their coach has basically challenged them to. One thing the Hurricanes can’t do is lament the fact they’re in Johannesbu­rg and not Wellington, which is where they would’ve ended up had the Sharks hung on.

‘‘To play the Lions in a packed Ellis Park, I think we’d be pretty stimulated by that,’’ said Boyd. The team left Sydney for Africa on Sunday, with a full complement of players to pick from. That includes centre Vince Aso, who passed a Saturday morning fitness test.

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