It was with great gusto the Reds launched their season campaign this morning, a slick multi-media type show, which left several jaded press hacks pondering the impact Generation Y has had on the staid and clichéd world of rugby reporting. Translation……there was not a party pie in sight.
The thing that strikes you about the Reds this year is freshness and youth.
“We don’t have baggage” Berrick Barnes, the interim Reds skipper, was heard to proclaim when asked about visiting Pretoria for the first round. A bold statement considering the last game the Reds were there for, they were pantsed by a record margin – to confirm this, the vast majority of the thirty-odd Reds’ squad were not even playing professional rugby when that particular outrage occurred.
Only nine players remain from when Phil Mooney took the helm, it is certain they are the player’s the second year coach has faith in, and around them he has built an impressive battery of youth. Add to this the uncompromising Daniel Braid and an old-pro league refugee like Mark McLinden, and you get the idea the Reds might not win the title, but those that beat them will earn the victory.
Other than Barnes’ anointment as Reds caretaker captain, Mooney suggested the team to take on the ‘Tahs in Toowoomba would be the dirty-dirties. Barnes will play in number 12 this season and the favourite for the full-back spot is Mungo McLinden.
As usual, the last trial game against the Force will give an indication as to how the Reds will line-up for the season opener in the Republic; I don’t expect surprises in the starting XV however the likes of Rodney Davies and Lawrie Weeks will feature on the bench one suspects.
Forgive my Red coloured glasses, but I am looking forward to this season, unlike those of the recent past.