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Whiteley admits system helped Lions


Lions captain Whiteley has 'no doubt conference system favoured them'

Lions captain Warren Whiteley has admitted the highly controversial Super Rugby format helped the Lions reach the finals.

The Lions’ 2018 performance were far from their best, the side won nine of their 16 matches in the regular season and finished with the fourth-highest amount of log points – less than the Chiefs (49), Hurricanes (51) and Crusaders (63).

However, due to the fact that conference winners are guaranteed the top three playoff spaces the Lions, – who won the South African conference – finished second on the overall log, securing them the right to host a quarterfinal against the Jaguares and a semifinal against the Waratahs.

“There is no doubt that the conference system was in our favour,” Whitely told reporters after the Lions 18-37 defeat to Crusaders on Saturday.

“We finished fourth overall on points, and because of the conference system, we drew a home quarter and the home semi.

“It definitely worked in our favour but as players, you can only play.

“We don’t decide on the conference system.

“In saying that, I still feel that we deserved to be here. We still had to play to get here and the boys deserved to play in the final,” he said.

Thus far, the conference system has received huge criticism from the rugby fraternity. All Blacks skipper Kieran Read, along with outgoing Hurricanes coach Chris Boys voiced their opinions in July.

Boyd said he would prefer a round-robin system where all teams play each other once, rather than splitting the competition into New Zealand, South African and Australian conferences.

With loads of criticism, Whitley mentioned that he fails to see longevity in the current format, echoing Boyd and Read’s sentiments.

“I think it will change in due course,” he said.

“As players, you want to play against everyone. I think it’s fairer that way, and as a player, you enjoy it more when you play against each and every team, you learn more, you grow more.

“So I’m sure it will change.

By Leezil Hendricks

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Lions captain Whiteley has 'no doubt conference system favoured them'