Mooney ups the ante
Reds’ coach Phil Mooney gave his clearest indication yet as to how the Reds’ will line-up this season by naming a near full strength squad to play Auckland this weekend.
With the exceptions of the injured Berrick Barnes, James Horwill and Ezra Taylor, it looks as close to the real thing as we’ll get. In the absence of both Barnes and Horwill, Greg Holmes will lead the side which is a fine reward for the young prop after a few winters of discontent.
At the naming of new Reds’ sponsor Comscentre, Mooney was upbeat about the Reds trial loss to the ‘Tahs last week and the prospect of seeing how the extended 24-man squad performed against a Blues outfit that has yet to record a win from its two pre-season outings
Speaking exclusively to Green and Gold Rugby, Mooney said he was happy with how the squad was progressing and that he himself had learnt a few lessons from last year.
“Last year was about setting a platform and changing the way we played, 12 months down the track we can be more specific about the way we play and channel our energy.”
“There were times last year when we played some pretty good rugby and we threatened sides, but we weren’t good enough to finish them off. We needed to be more clinical with our attack, we needed to be fitter and we needed to be better with our defence,” Mooney said.
Hardly a ground breaking statement, as I’m sure all coaches would have written to Santa hoping for improvements in these areas as their Christmas wish.
Mooney backed his statement by adding, “Six times last year we scored three tries in a game so being able to come away from games with the four try bonus point is something that teams who make the finals do consistently, so that is something we are certainly focused on. The flipside to that is teams were able to score 5 or 6 four try bonus points against us so our defence has to be better”
Mooney who said he believes a points tally in the high-30’s will be needed to make this year’s finals, predicted that the returning Wallabies would add the necessary toughness and experience needed to win the close games and turn wins into bonus point opportunities.
“Robbie Deans has put a lot more polish on these guys, they came back to us more confident and more composed and have had the affect of lifting the standard amongst the other guys, with the additional composure I would expect that games we just lost last year, we should win”
New sponsors, new players, new attitude – there is something special brewing at Ballymore.
Reds’ team to play Auckland Blues at Waitakere Stadium, Auckland 30/01/09
1. Holmes (capt) 9. Genia 17. Weeks
2. S. Faingaa 10. Cooper 18. Daley
3. Edwards 11. Hynes 19. Higginbotham
4. Simmons 12. A. Faingaa 20. Luafutu
5. Humphries 13. Turinui 21. Lucas
6. McMeniman 14. Ioane 22. Va’aula
7. Braid 15. McLinden 23. Connor
8. Houston 16. Hardman 24. Davies