Lions won't take their eye off the ball against Hurricanes

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Thursday, July 27, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

It took a long range penalty goal two minutes from fulltime to secure a win by the Lions over the Sharks and secure their semifinal place.


"I think the Lions took their eye off the ball against the Sharks [in last week's quarterfinal]. They had beaten them the week before. I thought the Sharks played particularly well, they had a really effective swarming defence and I think the Lions probably had their eye a little bit to the future," he said.

It had been one playing eight in the quarterfinal qualifiers and that had resulted in the Lions being a little off their game.

"I don't think they'll make that mistake again," he said.

Boyd felt the Ellis Park factor where the environment had been tough for New Zealand sides in the past would not be too much of a concern. In the three years he had been with sides in South Africa they had lost only, in a poor performance, against the Sharks in Durban last year.

"The boys are travelling so often now between South Africa and New Zealand we're getting the science around the gut feel as well so our organisation, our preparation, our adjustment to Africa and the altitude adjustments and time zones and stuff is getting well supported by science and it's not as big a deal as it used to be," he said.

While disappointed with the Hurricanes' quarterfinal effort against the Brumbies last week, Boyd said there was an edge about their preparation in Johannesburg.

"Our preparation has been outstanding in terms of the detail we've gone into to isolate specific situations and I think there has been a real edge around our preparations so if that translates into performance then I think we're in good shape," he said.
The conditions in Johannesburg with temperatures in the mid-20s, cloudless skies and no wind had been ideal for the Hurricanes and suited them better than playing in wet, slippery conditions, he said.

"It's a pretty nice place to be from a preparation point of view. You would far prefer to be at home at the Cake Tin but if you had to be somewhere we're certainly not crying about being in Jo'burg," he said.

The game was the first crossover between the two conferences and the question was would the Lions be able to handle playing a New Zealand side?

He said the Lions were a very good side and he was sure they would adapt.

The surprise in his selection for the game was the preference for Wes Goosen over Julian Savea on the left wing.

Boyd said he couldn't ignore Wes Goosen's form in choosing him ahead of All Black Julian Savea.

"We talked during the year when we get to the back end of the season that reputations count for nothing and form will dictate selection and at the end of the day we were keen to get Vince [Aso] back into the midfield in partnership with Ngani [Laumape] where they have performed pretty well on the front.

"With Vince going in there, there was a bit of a logjam. Jordie [Barrett] going back to fullback was a good option in what we expect to come – a kicking game – and that had three guys competing for two positions and we thought Wes and Nehe [Milner-Skudder] had the best form so that was the selection," he said.
It came down to the competitive selection environment and delivering performance and it was unfortunate not only for Savea but also for Cory Jane who dropped out of the match 23.

Boyd added that having captain and hooker Dane Coles, who will play his 100th game for the side, back in the side now that he was recovered from his concussion issues was a 'no brainer' and he had been making himself felt all week at training.

Aso said his groin had recovered from the slight tear he suffered in training on the Thursday before the Crusaders game in the last round of the competition. It was only after a scan on the Monday that he had a little muscle tear and he thought he would be out for the rest of the season but was able to come back for the semifinal.

He said his replacement at centre Jordie Barrett had 'aced' the role and had set a good standard for him to aspire to against the Lions.

After training all week he found he and second five-eighths Ngani Laumape were back to where they were before the June international break.