So what's in store for the Super Rugby quarter-finals? Lots more Damian McKenzie, hopefully.

Brumbies v Hurricanes, Canberra, Friday 9.35pm.
Super Rugby is idiots-ville. The champion Hurricanes have been treated with awful disrespect by the Super Rugby system, being sent to Canberra for a quarter-final.

The Hurricanes have scored the most tries this year, and have won six more games than the Brumbies. It would be a horrible injustice if they were to lose this.

They will win. They must win. Australian teams are batting zero against New Zealand. In other words, Japan has a better Super Rugby win record than Australia against New Zealand sides in 2017.


Chris Boyd's Hurricanes are a brilliant side who light up the game. The Brumbies are bumblers who just happen to be better than the other Aussie super-bumblers.
It would be a disaster if something went wrong for TJ Perenara and Canberra. It won't.

Prediction: Hurricanes by 20 with Ngani Laumape crushing the Brumbies midfield.
Crusaders v Highlanders, Christchurch, Saturday 7.35pm
Question of the month - why wasn't Jordie Barrett goalkicking in the third test against the Lions? Crazy, crazy, crazy.

This point was re-emphasised as the latest New Zealand wonder kid - who was shifted from fullback to centre just before kickoff - sent the Crusaders packing in Wellington.

With Beauden Barrett not playing through illness, his younger brother helped steal the show from the previously unbeaten Crusaders and his superior goalkicking was again on show.

Be afraid, Crusaders fans. Be very afraid. The former Super Rugby behemoths suddenly looked like that now-familiar near-but-yet-so-far team again in defeat to the Hurricanes.

The champions were hardly at their very best, but it was good enough to roll the Crusaders who got off to a fast start.

The Highlanders, meanwhile, got some rust out of the system in beating up the Reds, but a soft build-up to a big game is not always ideal.

These Highlanders are a dangerous team with and without the ball. One man who caught the eye was loose forward Liam Squire, whose time as a key All Black is surely not far away. I expect him to lead the early charge, with the ball or via big hits.

The Crusaders have suffered a defeat at the very moment when it was time to zoom into the playoffs.

Their big guns in the tight five will be back to face the Highlanders, but will they be firing? They lost a vital chance to get back into Crusaders mode, to get that "confusing" test series draw out of the system. Who is running this show - Steve Hansen or the Super Rugby coaches?

The Highlanders will be less affected by this stinking over-thinking.

Prediction: Highlanders by six, with Liam Squire leading the charge.

Liam Squire - the Highlanders power-packed loose forward is the man to punish the Crusaders. Photo / Dianne Manson
Liam Squire - the Highlanders power-packed loose forward is the man to punish the Crusaders. Photo / Dianne Manson

Lions v Sharks, Johannesburg, Sunday 12.30am.

It's a fix. Just kidding, kind of.

All power to the Lions, the former Super Rugby easy beats, who are the top seeds going into the playoffs.

Their final round win over the Sharks worked out well for both teams, the Sharks getting to play their quarter-final in South Africa rather than making a long hike to Christchurch.

In other words, the Sharks knew that losing to the Lions in Durban was in their best interests.

How exactly do you respond in that situation? They lost well, and will almost certainly lose again when they travel to Johannesburg.

Prediction: Lions by 15, with Elton Jantjies running the show.
Stormers v Chiefs, Cape Town, Sunday 3am.
Message to Steve Hansen: Time to let Damian McKenzie loose, at least from the test bench.

"Smiling" McKenzie is the best player in the world ... to watch. Can he become the actual best player in the world by trimming the errors, adding tactical acumen?

The pocket rocket was dazzling against Brumbies, the highlight being a trio of round-the-back passes delivered perfectly to team mates.

The trouble is, one of them was to a team mate in a bad position, handing an attacking lineout to the Brumbies.

Then again, I'd take McKenzie mistakes and all, if it came to that. The heart sings when he gets the ball, and he always wants the ball. He has it all - imagination, a step, pace, courage, the hands of a wizard. It's like watching a little Carlos Spencer playing on a motorbike.

McKenzie actually makes Beauden Barrett look a little conventional. He is also shaping as a very good goalkicker.

McKenzie, operating from fullback against the under-strength Brumbies, overshadowed Chiefs pivot Aaron Cruden, who to his credit did what he had to do to let rugby's newest sensation own the stage.

The Chiefs scrum looks in awesome form, and the return of Brodie Retallick and Dominic Bird will give them a powerful set piece.

Oh, that's right, we'd better talk about the Stormers. If McKenzie and friends cut loose, they will be dog tucker.

The Stormers were involved in a try-fest at Loftus Versfeld. But with all due respect, they are not in the same attacking class as Dave Rennie's Chiefs.

Prediction: The Chiefs to win a free-for-all with Damian McKenzie emerging as the talk of the rugby world.