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Aisle be back: Hurricanes v Highlanders in Wellington

Hurricanes | 15 March 2017 | Kevin McCarthy

Aisle be back: Hurricanes v Highlanders in Wellington

How many losses are just enough losses in Super rugby?

Judging inexactly by history, I'd say four if you want to be the New Zealand champ. Five in Africa. And as many as six in Oz. That's because of the vagaries of the comp qualifying.

If you can claw back a swag of bonus points, that helps of course but most sides are busy doing that.

So how crucial is this weekend's game for the Canes and Highlanders? You'd have to say the Landers are in the tight spot still. despite outlasting the Blues. Another loss and they'll have three. Certainly it's flirting with the last chance saloon uncomfortably early - and which means at best spending finals footie time collecting a lot of air miles.

A Canes loss would be less damaging though somewhat worrying for what are, let me remind you, the champs.

I am picking another close one, with the desperate visitors throwing the kitchen sink. But after that ho-hum effort in Hamilton, the Canes should also be desperate to stamp some authority on the game.

It's such a shame Nehe Milner-Skudder is out for maybe 6 weeks or more. But it will be fascinating if Jordie Barrett gets the start at 15.

I mean you can see he's going to be good, or great. But right now, he reminds me of an un-cordinated baby giraffe, not quite sure of himself. Everytime he gets the ball, I expect it to end in some piece of nervy play.

But if he gets some serious time on the park, that should vanish.

RLM

+++++++

You must have heard the saying that the definition of insanity is repeating the same unsuccessful thing and hoping for a better outcome.

Which is what the Lions' coach Johan Ackermann - clearly an astute operator - did at the weekend in resting four Springboks for the trip to play the Jaguares; You will remember well that not taking his top side to Argentina cost the Lions a home finals run last season.

Admittedly two of the four stayed back for personal reasons this time round.

But again the Lions lost. Chris Boyd will be disappointed, having virtually conceded that whoever won the Kiwi conference would be heading to Ellis Park for the 2017 final if they were lucky. We shall see.

++++++

Don't you sometimes miss the old England. 2011 England. They came here with a black alternate strip for RWC, prompting the quip that you don't wear a white dress to someone else's wedding.

So why is it now that England are equal to New Zealand in a test match winning streak, all they can talk about is, er, the All Blacks.

Come on guys, that's like the groom standing up at his reception and talking incessantly about the bridesmaid. It's not about US, it's about YOU and how you can take the record next weekend, then ascend to world domination sometime around 2019.

There's been a lot of pointless talk about which streak is better. But I've been doing some research which disturbingly shows that both streaks are quite devalued.

In short, neither side has had to play Cyprus, which has 24 wins on the trot. New Zealand has a poor record when touring the eastern Mediterranean (see 1915, 1941) but England is just a booze-filled Ryanair flight away.

Oh sorry, that's the old England.

I do miss them.

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The Hurricanes team to play the Highlanders this Saturday at Westpac Stadium at 7.35pm is:

Jordie Barrett, Vince Aso, Matt Proctor, Ngani Laumape, Julian Savea, Beauden Barrett, TJ Perenara (vc), Ardie Savea, Callum Gibbins, Brad Shields, Michael Fatialofa, Mark Abbott, Jeffery To'omaga-Allen, Dane Coles (c), Chris Eves. Reserves: Ricky Riccitelli, Ben May, Mike Kainga, Sam Lousi, Reed Prinsep, Te Toiroa Tahuriorangi, Otere Black, Wes Goosen.

Lifelong All Blacks supporter Kev has followed the Hurricanes since they began. Last year his faith in them was rewarded when they won the title – can they do it again?

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