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'Knockout' mode a help for Hurricanes

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Lynn McConnell     05 Aug 2016     Getty Images

Boyd made the point when comparing Saturday's final with last year's, against the Highlanders, also in Wellington.

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There wasn't a comparison with last season, he said.

The Hurricanes had a runaway start to last season but this year they lost to the Sharks in Durban just before the June break and since then they had been playing knockout football.

"We had six or seven games of knockout football and if we had lost one of those games, as you saw with the shuffling of the deckchairs on the Titanic in that week where we played the Crusaders, if we had got it wrong the week before we would not have been in that shuffle. So we've been playing knockout football for a while now and getting good at it.

"Last year we didn't have the luxury of that momentum," he said.

An extra factor was having flanker Ardie Savea available this time around. Injury denied him a place last year and due to his good form having him available on Saturday was a massive positive for the side.
Boyd said that while the weather for the final would be cold, he didn't expect it to be as stormy as over the last two weekends.

The Lions were a formidable combination and it was likely their inside-back pairing of Faf de Klerk and Elton Jantjies would be the Springboks starting combination and half the team were likely to be involved in the Investec Rugby Championship.

Jantjies was a confident player and his confidence would be very high after the last couple of weeks, he said.

Both he and his Hurricanes opposite Beauden Barrett were different players. They had comparable skill sets but played the game differently, he said.

The Hurricanes had several challenges ahead of them playing the Lions. They had scored a large number of points in the season and had beaten two New Zealand sides in the last two weeks.

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"Clearly their set piece is going to be a key factor, particularly if it is going to be wet," he said.

The Hurricanes did enjoy home advantage for their preparation, especially not having the disruption that travel caused, but that wouldn't be the difference, he said. The difference would be the performance.

"If we stay to doing what we do well I think we're a chance," he said.

Boyd said he thought centre Matt Proctor hadn't reached his potential yet. He was a good footballer, accurate who was a good athlete who understood the game and would reflect on the season as a learning experience.

"He was always for me potentially the logical successor to Conrad [Smith] at centre. I think he's been ok this year but has nowhere near got his head around the intricacies of playing 13 so there's lot of upsides from that to come," he said.

Centre, defensively, was the hardest position to play and he was still coming to grips with all the requirements and vagaries of playing the role.