Match Preview: Reds v Sunwolves - Green and Gold Rugby
Queensland Reds

Match Preview: Reds v Sunwolves

Match Preview: Reds v Sunwolves

Queensland fans get to say sayonara to the Sunwolves this weekend in Brisbane, but will they be waving goodbye to their team’s finals hopes as well?

The Reds finally get to play a home game, having spent much of the last three weeks living out of their luggage in hotels across the southern hemisphere.   Whether two bonus point losses and brilliant first forty against the Jaguares, will be enough to drag the many jaded rugby fans back is yet to be seen.

Personally, I think there remains a hell of a lot to like about this team with some exciting talent across the park.  The crowds might be back immediately, but if they can expand on their first half performance last week then the bandwagon will be stopping all stops down the track.

In reality the Reds simply must win. And they must win big.  On the back of their first round upset of the Rebels, the Sunwolves currently sit above the Reds on the conference ladder with the Rebels just a few extra for and against points above them in 2nd.  Sitting atop the Australian ladder are the Brumbies with two wins.

But the Brumbies will finally step out of cosy little Canberra this weekend as they take on the Cheifs in Hamilton.  With the Rebels also taking on their first opponent from outside the conference, in the Sharks, we will get a better understanding of where the Aussie teams lie come Sunday.  The competitiveness of these games makes the Reds v Sunwolves clash even more important.

This is not to discredit the visiting team who surprised many with their efforts and effectiveness in their Round 1 win over the Rebels.   But that was a dire Rebels performance, underdone by a lack of proper trial time. Since then the Sunwolves had had a bye and were smashed by Chiefs 43-17.


The Reds suffered a blow this week when Jordan Petaia was, again, ruled out for the season due to injury.  While disappointing for him, Hunter Paisami probably did more in the 13 jersey last week than Jordan had done in the previous two games.

As a result, Brad Thorn has gone with the same starting XV as took on the Jaguares with some exciting talent returning from the bench. We get to see Harry Hooper, Fraser McReight and Scott Maloula for the first time this season, all returning from various injury concerns.  Harry Hocking will be back for his second game having got some minutes last week.  Ed Craig will get a potential Super Rugby debut having been drafted into the squad as a replacement for the injured Brandon Paenga-Amosa

The Sunwolves have made all sorts of changes from the team that lost to the Chiefs and if Ben Darwin has taught me anything, this is not the way pull a win out of the bag.  They would have been much better sticking with the same outfit and continue to work on their combinations.

There are so many former QLD players in this Sunwolves outfit its almost a Brumbies C team. It’s no where near as strong as the outfit we saw surprise many last year, although there are a smattering of familiar faces.  Unfortunately for the Sunwolves they are familiar because of their participation in the NRC and club footy, rather than anything on the international stage.

Key Match Ups:

Reds v the discipline:

Forget the debacle that was most of last week’s game v the Jaguares from a match officiating perspective, the Reds remain disappointing from a discipline perspective.  The likes of Angus Blythe, Taniela Tupou and Lukhan Salakai-Loto were caught out more times than they should have last week and the team suffered because of it. The Reds need to be better at backing their team mates by doing the little 1%ers better to ensure the win they need is earned on Saturday night.

Reds v the ex-Reds:

Just a nice little by-play to this game.  The strategic decisions made by the powers that be around the future Sunwolves, has meant that their 2020 squad is somewhat ‘eclectic’.  We’ve always had a few ex-Reds we could ‘cheer’ for, with Ed Quirk generally front of the line.  This year is no different with another former backrower, Jake Schatz, back in Brisbane as captain no less.  Further afield is Efi Ma’afu, on the bench as backup hooker, who likely would have been filling such a duty for the Reds had he not headed north a month or so ago.  The locks include former Brisbane City lock, Corey Thomas and Tigers player and Reds Academy forward, Michael Stolberg. And of course, there is ‘peak’ Ben Te’o formerly a Queensland State of Origin player.


Stuff a prediction.  I DEMAND a 20-point, bonus point victory.



1. JP Smith
2. Alex Mafi
3. Taniela Tupou
4. Izack Rodda
5. Angus Blyth
6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
7. Liam Wright ©
8. Harry Wilson
9. Tate McDermott
10. James O’Connor
11. Henry Speight
12. Hamish Stewart
13. Hunter Paisami
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia
15. Jock Campbell

16. Ed Craig
17. Harry Hoopert
18. Josh Nasser
19. Harry Hockings
20. Fraser McReight
21. Scott Maloula
22. Isaac Lucas
23. Bryce Hegarty


1 Chris Eves
2 Jaba Bregvadze
3 Conrad van Vuuren
4 Corey Thomas
5 Michael Stolberg
6 Kyo Yoshida
7 Mitch Jacobson
8 Jake Schatz
9 Naoto Saito
10 Garth April
11 James Dargaville
12 Ben Te’o
13 JJ Engelbrecht
14 Siosaia Fifita
15 Jordan Jackson-Hope

16 Efi Ma’afu
17 Nic Mayhew
18 Hencus van Wyk
19 Kotaro Yatabe
20 Tevita Tupou
21 Rudy Paige
22 Keisuke Moriya
23 Shogo Nakano


Date: Saturday 22 February
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-Off: 6:15pm Briso time
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Jordan Way
Assistant Ref 2: Aaron Pook
TMO :James Leckie 


    • Nutta

      Good luck Sully. Thoughts & prayers mate.

      • Bernie Chan

        “Prayers” indeed..a bit of a ‘banana peel’ game. The Reds need a BIG win…hope BT has finally seen fit to have a “Plan B” in case his “Plan A” is stuffed…

        • Brisneyland Local

          As long as he didnt search for that Plan B in the Ballymore carpark where the Reds usually search for their coaches.

  • Reds Revival

    I’m looking forward to finally seeing the much talked about, Fraser McReight’s impact on the end of the game. Scott Maloula should also be good to see in action again.

  • Huw Tindall

    Nic Berry not officiating the breakdown will be fine so the hot heads like Tupou can go nuts.

    • Brisneyland Local

      Yes but knowing nic Berry’s inconsisency and being called out for it last week, he will officiate it like a bastard this week.

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    I’m with you Reg, this is a game that every supporter demands the Reds win. No excuses just get out there and friggen win.

  • Nutta

    There is absolutely no reason why the Reds should not romp this one home. And that’s why I’m cringing. I am always wary of a side who has nothing to play for except pride as a group of bedraggled mutts who are fighting for their supper and that is what the Pingers are as both a group and solo players. So whilst the Reds will smash scrums and dominate lineouts, I’m sorry to say it will not surprise in the least if all the angst and anxiety for a win pressures the Reds out of it and the Pingers graft, scrap and use the 5D’s of Dodgeball to snatch a win from what should really be a dominant Qld display. Qld to win the stats but Pingers to win the scoreboard.

    • Reds Revival

      This is a classic case of they have to earn the right to go wide first. If they get caught in the high tempo game that the Moondogs like to play, then it will end badly. If they dominate through set piece and then do pick and drive before spreading it wide, they should walk it in. The question is, do the young Reds have the rugby smarts to play the right type of game?

  • John Tynan

    Some absolute gold in there Reg!
    “Personally, I think there remains a hell of a lot to like about this team with some exciting talent across the park. ” +1 for me
    and loved this:
    “There are so many former QLD players in this Sunwolves outfit its almost a Brumbies C team.”
    Also +1 on Nutta’s comment.

  • Keith Butler

    Nothing less that a bonus point win by a big margin will do. With all the changes that have happened in Japanese rugby at at the Moondogs they could be easily renamed the Barbarians!

  • idiot savant

    I still haven’t recovered from the 60 point annihilation the Sunwolves handed out to the Reds 2 years ago. The Reds took their best side to Tokyo and Thorn’s game plan was to dominate the set piece and use his huge weight advantage in the forwards to pick and drive their way to a victory. If he had been watching the Sunwolves two previous matches both against NZ sides in NZ he would have noticed they really stretched the kiwi teams by playing rugby at top speed. The outcome was of course a train wreck with the Sunwolves top speed rugby exhausting the huge Reds pack and centres. Thorns lack of opposition analysis and completely wrong game plan led to him being handed his arse on a plate.

    Did he learn from that? Subsequent games have gone the Reds way but not by much. From memory a couple of teenagers (Lucas and Stewart) just managed to get them across the line in Japan last year. And the biggest change to the Reds plan was defence. Thorn persisted with his set piece and forward driven game plan which if it hadn’t been for those young backs would have led to another loss. This time it looks like the Sunwolves aren’t as good a side and haven’t had as much time together so there should be some weaknesses to exploit. And I think the Reds are fitter and faster so providing they maintain patience and discipline they should do it easy. The Reds trio of brain farters (Tupou, Blythe, LSL) will have to be careful after Wayne Smith’s article about referees on Wednesday. Berry will be even more desperate to suck up to Lyndon Bray than he was last week.

  • Brisneyland Local

    Well GAGR’s I am to attend this game tonight. The temperature is coming down but the humidity is still high and uncomfortable enough. So will wonder what impact that will have. BL’s random thoughts whilst making margerhitas:
    – The Reds have looked an improvement on last year. Their pack is certainly strong. But we know sometimes pack strength means very little against the sunwolves.
    – The Moondoggies love to toss it around aka F1j1 style. So I am expecting a fast paced game. through out.
    – Nic Berry is referumping so who fucking knows what brand of crack he will be on tonight. But as last week he didnt officiate the breakdown you can guarantee that tongiht he will be as pedantic as fuck on it.
    – Reds will need to be disciplined.
    Over all the Reds should romp this in, but that always scares me whn I or anyone else says it.
    Reds by 2 in injury time!

Queensland Reds

The original prop in a prop's body, but thankfully I have the rugby mind of a prop as well.

More in Queensland Reds