Lions coach: Home advantage is enormous
Cape Town - Lions coach Swys de Bruin admits that home ground advantage plays a significant role in the Super Rugby playoff rounds.
The Lions host the Waratahs in the semi-finals in Johannesburg on Saturday (15:05 kick-off), while the Crusaders entertain the Hurricanes in Christchurch (09:35 SA time).
The defending champion Crusaders finished top of the overall standings and will have home ground advantage if they reach the final.
“It’s enormous to play at home. Your chance of winning increases significantly,” De Bruin admitted in an interview with Netwerk24.
The Lions mentor added that they’ll be fully behind the Hurricanes on Saturday as it would give them the opportunity to host the final at Ellis Park.
“Maybe I should send Boydie (Chris Boyd, Hurricanes coach) a message of encouragement to go and beat the Crusaders in Christchurch. The two of us worked together at the Sharks academy and I know him well.”
De Bruin said a Hurricanes victory would be extra motivation for them when they step on to the field against the Waratahs.
“Damn, it would be nice for that to happen,” De Bruin said.
The Crusaders, however, will be a tough to beat at home. Their 40-10 victory over the Sharks last weekend was their 13th in a row in the competition.
Sharks coach Robert de Preez said afterwards he expected the Crusaders to win their ninth Super Rugby title.
“The Crusaders are an excellent attacking and defending side and I can’t see any other team beating them. Their set piece is so good, lineout-wise particularly, they scored tries from that and you have to front up physically.”
The Crusaders beat the Lions 25-17 in last year’s final at Ellis Park.