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Aisle be Back: Go the Canes!

TJ Perenara, Aidan Morgan and Josh Moorby celebrate a try in their recent match against the Fijian Drua. The trio start the quarter-final against the Brumbies at halfback, first five and fullback respectively. Perenara will be playing his 150th match. 

  • By Kevin McCarthy

Finals footy! It’s taken a while, but not so long as it used to, to get there.

Strictly, of course, there should be no finals weekend. The Blues wrapped up the title two weeks ago.

Playing the devils advocate here (I like the eight team finals round) then Super Rugby is seriously undermining its credibility. There can only be one champion and it happens to be the team from Auckland. Looking back, that title was clinched when they defeated a team from Christchurch.

It hardly seems fair that with a six point buffer i.e., every other team could play another round and still not catch them, that the Blues should have to put their winning season on the line. They’ve beaten everyone (except the Hurricanes) – why do they have to prove themselves any further.

Honestly, I think there will be a lot of support for my idea – especially from Christchurch. Fair is fair.

Of course, there’s plenty of self-righteous indignation on show when people say the eight-teams qualifying is a joke. It’s not a joke. It’s a way of keeping the competition relevant to as many teams as possible as late in the season as possible. For a competition that needs to rebuild interest in rugby, this seems wise as at least an opening setup.

In short, put bums on seats, and eyeballs watching. It’s very unlikely, but the Landers could win at Eden Park. History recent and long past suggests they will not. But people will be watching, and Eden Park has a chance of three successive profitable weekends if all goes to plan. I bet they are happy to host finals footy over those three weeks.

Different teams, same story further up the grades. Essentially where you finish in the league helps your bottom line, and if the ranking mean anything, the current top four will be the final four, and the final two will be Auckland and Canterbury. And hopefully a replay of that cracking earlier match between the two sides.

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The Hurricanes managed to stay super glued to fifth spot, even as the rest of the comp threw up a few late dramatics. They go to Canberra as outsiders, it never being a happy hunting ground.

Then again, you look at the team – which finally appears settled – and there’s got to be plenty of optimism. There’s some bright young talent, well leavened with current and former All Blacks. On paper, it’s going to be close.

Pray that they do not start slow. The Brumbies will squeeze and squeeze the life out of the Canes if they find themselves chasing the match.

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I know like I don’t expect the coach of the  All Blacks to lay out what is really happening in the strategy to take us through to the World Cup.

But Ian Foster probably left a few fans smacking their heads into the wall with comments widely reported this week. They were essentially that other teams had caught up with the All Blacks in several key areas. They also had these rush defences we were working on solving.

This wouldn’t even have been revelatory in 2015. Here we are seven years on, stuck in Sybil Fawlty’s school of the bleeding obvious.

It was interesting however to hear he didn’t want Jordie at 12. That shot down the usual conspiracy theories about the All Blacks directing Super rugby selections. Well, Fozzie, he’s playing at 12 again this weekend. Let’s see how that goes.

You could say a lot about the Silver Lake deal, but one thing I’m left hoping for is that they can make a proper fist of selling the sport. Coaches saying platitudes is just a giant deflator  The sport deserves more.

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