6 Aug 2016

Hurricanes out to end 20 years of hurt

3:54 pm on 6 August 2016

A year ago the stars seemed aligned for the Hurricanes to finally claim their first Super Rugby title.

Hurricanes

Hurricanes Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Wellington-based club dominated during the regular season and were heavy favourites to topple the upstart Highlanders, yet crumbled at the last.

A year on and they are back, though the journey this time has been a little different.

The Canes were disregarded by most as a threat to finally end 20 years of disappointment, having lost captain Conrad Smith and stalwart Ma'a Nonu to the lure of France.

Fellow underdogs, the Lions, block their path - a team that historically lurks at the wrong end of the table.

The Johannesburg-based club has scored points for fun - and 4.8 tries per game - playing an enviable style of attacking rugby.

A key battle will be that of the first-fives, Beauden Barrett and Elton Jantjies, who have both had career-making seasons.

Jantjies has scored 187 points to Barrett's 208, and both, if given time and space, have the ability to tear defences to shreds.

The Hurricanes' skipper, Dane Coles, is still a definitely-maybe to start - he rated himself an "eight out of 10" midweek.

He said the big occasion would not get to the home side, as it perhaps did last year.

"We don't have too great a success at winning championships, but we try not to get caught up in the hype," he said.

"We're not focusing on the outcome but if we do what we've been doing all year we'll give ourselves a hell of a chance."

The Lions are playing in their first Super Rugby final and seeking to become the second South African side to win the thing.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley.

Lions captain Warren Whiteley. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Their injury doubt, number eight Warren Whitely, has been passed fit.

New Zealand referee Glen Jackson will officiate.

The weather forecast for Wellington is cold.

Hurricanes: 15-James Marshall, 14-Cory Jane, 13-Matt Proctor, 12-Willis Halaholo, 11-Jason Woodward, 10-Beauden Barrett, 9-TJ Perenara, 8-Victor Vito, 7-Ardie Savea, 6-Brad Shields, 5-Michael Fatialofa, 4-Vaea Fifita, 3-Ben May, 2-Dane Coles/Ricky Riccitelli, 1-Loni Uhila

Lions: 15-Andries Coetzee, 14-Ruan Combrinck, 13-Lionel Mapoe, 12-Rohan Janse van Rensburg, 11-Courtnal Skosan, 10-Elton Jantjies, 9-Faf de Klerk, 8-Warren Whiteley (captain), 7-Warwick Tecklenburg, 6-Jaco Kriel, 5-Franco Mostert, 4-Andries Ferreira, 3-Julian Redelinghuys, 2-Malcolm Marx, 1-Dylon Smith

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