The Last Stand of Kerevi?- Reds vs Blues Preview - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

The Last Stand of Kerevi?- Reds vs Blues Preview

The Last Stand of Kerevi?- Reds vs Blues Preview

In the midst of the other code having their big boy fight on Wednesday, the average Queenslander might be forgiven for forgetting the Reds back up at home again this week, their final home game for the season. Squeezed in between Origin 1 and an NRL local derby on Sunday, a Super Rugby battle between two under performing teams is unlikely to get the blood pumping.

There are a few interesting story lines playing out from a Queensland perspective- what will happen to Samu Kerevi, who is playing for their future and how low will the crowd be? Read on for the preview.

Taniela Tupou will need a big game if he wants more than a bit part at the WC

Taniela Tupou will need a big game if he wants more than a bit part at the WC

REDS TEAM

After last weeks mass changes, this week sees three changes to the starting side. Izack Rodda comes in for Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, who falls foul of ARU rest policy. Alex Mafi starts again in place of Brandon Paenga-Amosa, and Scott Malolua is in line to make his first Super Rugby start, after getting 25 odd minutes last week against the Jaguares. Tate McDermott misses out through injury, with Moses Sorovi resuming his place on the bench.

It is the elevation of Malolua over Sorovi that is the most interesting. It is clear from this decision that there is some consideration as to whether the 25 year old will be part of the mix going forward. Everyone seems to forget that James Tuttle is still under contract, rehabbing his second achilles rupture. You would imagine that McDermott is safe as the clear number one, and Sorovi is probably two, which leaves an awkward choice at some point soon.

The rest of the team is pretty straight forward. The Reds were stoic without being great against a Jaguares team dripping with internationals, and they were half a chance until the late intercept try. Yet another one to add to the pile of “if only” games.

 

BLUES TEAM

Enforced national team rest has bitten the Blues as well this week, causing the omission of Patrick Tuipulotu and the electric Rieko Ioane from the team. Injury has seen to Caleb Clarke on the wing and in the halves, Leon McDonald has plumped for Augustine Pulu and Otere Black.

When you consider the number of players not considered due to injury (11), and the calibre of some of those players, (Sonny-Bill Williams and Karl Tu’Inukuafe among them), you begin to get a sense of how rough a season it has been for them. Also then consider the fact that they still manage to have Ma’a Nonu, Akira Ioane and Ofa Tuungafasi and others in the team that you appreciate the depth of NZ rugby. You would argue that if the Reds had eleven out through injury that it would be considered a crisis and some real bolters from club land would get the nod.

Melani Nanai has been a destructive force at fullback for the Blues

Melani Nanai has been a destructive force at fullback for the Blues

KEY STORYLINES

The scrums- The Blues have had the most dominant scrum this season, losing only four tightheads all year for a ridiculous 97% success rate. As we all know, the Reds scrum has also been their primary weapon for the past few seasons and this will be the ultimate test. If Taniela Tupou wants to lock down the number three jersey for the World Cup, he will have to really step up in this game. He has been the most penalised player in Super Rugby this season and an all round game capped off with his tradmark runs through the centre channel will be needed.

For the love of everything holy don’t aimlessly kick- As much as it pains me to say it, the aimless kicks that have no pressure on them that plagued the Reds in previous years is still there. Not as bad, mind you but it still happens. The Blues would be the worst team to do this to. Melani Nanai leads the competition in run metres by some margin and is tied for third in offloads. The message here seems to be that if you play with fire, you will be burnt. I have always been a fan of a good kick, that is chased hard and creates pressure but mindless kicking that results in oppositions setting up counter attacking opportunities is simply asking for trouble,

Crowds- Crammed in between two big NRL games against a team (albeit NZ) that isn’t doing too well themselves doesn’t bode well. Look at last week where nearly 3 times as many fans went to the AFL on the other side of town also gives you the sense that all is not well. Stadium activity on game day is nearly non-existent as is the publicity around town. There was hope that a better season would bring a buzz but four straight losses has put paid to that.

Will it be Samu Kerevi’s last home game- It is well publicised that Kerevi is out of contract at the end of the season and word on the street is that he is off to Japan for a stint. This would be a massive blow on a few levels. Firstly, he only has 23 caps so wouldn’t be eligible for Wallaby selection under the Giteau rule. Secondly, he is the glue that has been holding the Queensland team together, both on the field as a player and off the field as captain. Surely with the number of players off overseas at the end of the World Cup, and the money saved from Israel Folau’s contract, there is the opportunity to make a strong offer that at least makes it a hard choice.

PREDICTION

Neither team have lived up to expectations this year, well my expectations at least. I thought both teams would be closer to 50/50 in the win-loss stakes than they are. The Red have had at least three games that they could have/would have/should have won and the Blues have struggled to find a consistent flyhalf and reliable goal kicking.

My wish is a return to the glory days when both these teams were two of the best provincial teams in the world, but I don’t see that happening for a long time.

My other wish is for a Reds win to at least give home fans something to look forward to for next year, a win and some hope.

Reds by 7

 

MATCH DETAILS

Blues: (courtesy of ESPN) 

15 Melani Nanai
14 Matt Duffie
13 TJ Faiane
12 Ma’a Nonu
11 Taniela Telea’a
10 Otere Black
9 Augustine Pulu
8 Akira Ioane
7 Blake Gibson (c)
6 Dalton Papalii
5 Scott Scrafton
4 Gerard Cowley-Tuioti
3 Ofa Tuungafasi
2 James Parson
1 Alex Hodgman

Replacements:

16 Leni Apisai
17 Marcel Renata
18 Lua Li
19 Tom Robinson
20 Josh Goodhue
21 Jonathan Ruru
22 Harry Plummer
23 Levi Aumua

Reds

15 Bryce Hegarty
14 Jock Campbell
13 Chris Feauai-Sautia
12 Samu Kerevi (c)
11 Filipo Daugunu
10 Matt McGahan
9 Scott Malolua (run on debut)
8 Scott Higginbotham
7 Liam Wright
6 Angus Scott-Young
5 Angus Blyth
4 Izack Rodda
3 Taniela Tupou
2 Alex Mafi
1 JP Smith

Replacements:

16 Brandon Paenga-Amosa
17 Ruan Smith
18 Gav Luka
19 Harry Hockings
20 Adam Korczyk
21 Moses Sorovi
22 Duncan Paia’aua
23 Hamish Stewart

Match Details Date: Friday 7 June
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19:45 AEST
Referee: Brendon “PickandGo” Pickerill  AR1: Mike “Malcolm” Fraser  AR2: Jordan “Wrong” Way
Television Match Official: James “Leckie” Leckie
  • Hoss

    Thanks Ben,

    For all the drama and BS around rugby in Australia this year, potentially losing Kerevi could be the biggest faux pas of them all.

    The guy is great for the game, a genuinely decent human being, a terrific leader and a lock at Wallaby 12 and potentially skipper, for years to come.

    If I am RA lead negotiator I simply slide a blank piece of paper across the table and say ‘name your price’ and if it’s between $1-$1.5m pa you shake hands and lock him in.

    • Andy

      Have you been reading “art of the deal”?

      • Hoss

        Are their pictures in it ?

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          there

        • Hoss

          Where?

        • Mica

          What?? ;)

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      I’m not sure Cheika sees him as a lock in 12. I think he sees him as only an option at 13

      • Hoss

        And there in is the problem
        Our best 12 is not considered a 12, our best 7 is an 8…….

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          I know. Shits me to tears

        • Mica

          The incumbent 7 is not our best 12 or 13 even though he plays there most of the time………….

      • idiot savant

        I agree with that. Kerevi has, to this point in his career, never been a lock at any position for the Wallabies. He has been a fringe player and often used as a spur to make TK play better, but never a genuine first choice. In some ways he is a late developer. I think he played at least 3 seasons of super rugby before he was considered good enough for national honours (not a handful of games like a certain player who went from one good NRC game and one good half of super rugby to a lock at 6) and then his first trial at 12 when Beale was overseas did not end well. We lost to England, the ABs and the outside backs dint see much ball with him there. It took time and possibly Randwick backs coach McKay to unlock his potential as a 12. This season has been a revelation. All of a sudden and without Folau he seems our best back! And next year he will be gone!

        • Kiwi rugby lover

          Friggen sad state of affairs mate

        • Bernie Chan

          Yep…tragic….

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Ben, boy this year has had some ups and downs. I’m hoping the Blues can step up but I also think a win by the Reds wouldn’t be a bad thing as no result is a competition changing issue and in some ways I think the Reds need it more than the Blues

  • idiot savant

    Thanks Ben. Some interesting developments at the Reds. I dont understand why the Reds shelled out big coin for Speight. I assume Petaaia will be back next year pushing CFS back to the wing where he will compete for a spot with Daugunu, Campbell, Hardy and some other young flyer I seem to remember they have on their books. Why would you do that when you are losing your only 2 inside centres? Surely thats where your coin should be going particularly when there are no current candidates for the 12 jersey on their books. Unless they plan on shifting Petaia there? What happens if the 12 they will surely buy gets injured? They have no shortage of wingers but they are very short of class centres. Sometimes I think BT wonders what backs are for.

    Im also intrigued at BT’s plan for the 10 jersey. I fancy McGahan is BT’s preferred kind of 10. Kick first and ask questions later. (Speaking of aimless kicking). So I imagine his one year contract will be extended as there is no point in continuing to play him at 10 if he is gone next season. Unless of course BT is embarrassed about not winning as many matches as last year. But he is safe for another year at least so theres no point unless he plans to keep him. Which means Stewart is finished as a 10 option under BT with Hegarty and Lucas in front of him.

    Also intrigued as to why Sorovi has dropped to the number 3 halfback and played so few minutes this season. He looks like a bloody good player to me but I must be missing something. On the plus side, the Reds forwards have been developing well. And when you consider the experience they have gained this season and the addition of under 20s stars McReight and Wilson next year, they should be able to set a platform for…. a kicker.

    • Max Graham

      Speight is a great buy in my opinion. Those other options you listed wouldn’t get a run at any other super rugby team. Also, has Kerevi actually signed with an overseas club?

      • idiot savant

        Henry is a very good player but is he that far ahead of Daugunu or CFS that you would spend serious money on him? Also Campbell has not been disgraced at super rugby level. What he lacks in top end speed he makes up for in smarts. So given Henry’s age and by the time the Reds are capable of contending he will be too old, I cant see his purchase as long sighted.

        • Max Graham

          I see him as a very different player than CFS – somehow I rate very highly. Think they’d play great together. Speight won’t let anyone down at the Reds and adds some crucial experience in a team full of kids.

  • Mica

    Reds by 7 – I don’t think so, but will be extremely happy if proven to be wrong.
    I’d say Blues by a dozen

  • Bernie Chan

    Wonder why the Reds n LSL are falling foul of the RA “rest” policy when it seems the Tahs are not…?
    Aimless kicking seems a trend for Oz teams…look at the Rebels last round…

Queensland Reds
@Ben_Marczyk

Passionate about rugby from the grass roots up. Usually found at Brisbane club rugby games, or being involved in the junior and schools system. Love a chat, happy to admit when I'm wrong. I will watch any game of rugby regardless of who is playing, from juniors through to tests

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