Cape Town - Lions captain Warren Whiteley admits that the Super Rugby Conference system helped his side in the 2018 season.
The Lions went down the Crusaders 37-18 in Christchurch on Saturday in what was their third tournament final in as many years without lifting the trophy once.
Despite having made it through to the final once more, the Lions were far from their best throughout the campaign and won nine of their 16 matches in regular season.
That left them as the side with the fourth-highest amount of log points (44) behind the Chiefs (49), Hurricanes (51) and Crusaders (63).
But, because of the current Conference system, the Lions were bumped up to 2nd on the log ahead of the Chiefs and Hurricanes and given home ground advantage for their quarter-final against the Jaguares and then their semi-final against the Waratahs.
Whiteley went even further by suggesting that the current system needs to change.
"There is no doubt that the Conference system was in our favour," he said after Saturday's match.
"We finished fourth overall on points, and because of the Conference system we drew a home quarter and a home semi.
"It definitely worked in our favour but as players you can only play. We don't decide on the system.
In saying that, I still feel that we deserved to be here. We had to play to get here."
Whiteley does not see the current format lasting.
"I think it will change in due course," he said.
"As players, you want to play against everyone. I think that's fairer and as players you enjoy it more, so I'm sure it will change."