The Year Ahead - Reds - Green and Gold Rugby
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The Year Ahead – Reds

The Year Ahead – Reds

It is nearly Super Rugby season! Are we all getting excited?

As a Reds supporter I am trying to keep any excitement, and expectations, in check. But let’s have a look at what the year ahead has in store.

 

The Squad

Back in October when the full squad was announced RugbyReg did a nice review of the who’s who of the Reds squad. But let’s have a quick squiz at the unders and overs.

There seems to be a fair mix of experience and enthusiastic youth. The return of Squeaky Moore, Leroy Houston and Higgers (more about that later), and the addition of George Smith should bring some hard-nosed, never say die attitude to the forwards. While the relatively inexperienced backs are bolstered by the return of Quade Cooper.

As seems to be the done thing in Reds squad of recent years, there is certainly an abundance of backrowers. Even if the outcome of Scott Higginbotham’s court appearance after a night out the other weekend results in a delayed return to the team, there are more than enough to fill the void. With Smith, Houston, and Hendrick Tui in addition to the young guns of Korczyk, Gunn, Timu and Hewatt, there will be plenty of competition for spots, injury cover and development. Just don’t let them all go for a night out in The Valley. (Too soon?)

Higgers - "OK"

No truth to the rumours this picture was taken Sunday morning.

The two glaring holes that I can see are flyhalf and full back. Our history on injuries in the 10 jersey over the last few years does not make for pretty reading so I am not really convince that two specialists are enough. As much as I think Jake McIntyre has potential, let’s face it, there is a huge step down from an on fire Cooper to a workman like McIntyre. (There is a comparison between foie gras and pate here somewhere but that has been used before.) Having said that I do believe that there will be great benefits to be had by Quade taking Jake under his wing. But if disaster strikes and both go down, who will step in?

Now to fullback. Again we only have two specialists named in the squad – Karmichael Hunt and Jayden Ngamanu. You can be forgiven for saying Ngamanu who? I did. Jayden was a member of the 2016 Queensland U20s squad that took out the inaugural Super U20s Championship as well as representing Australia in Sevens at the 2015 Youth Commonwealth Games. So, with no Super Rugby under his belt and only four Brisbane City NRC caps to his name, Ngamanu joins Hunt who, because of suspension and injury, has 19 caps over the two seasons he has spent with the Reds. The improvement Hunt has shown over the last couple of seasons as well as in the NRC and his run at the 10’s would make him the first choice, but, if Hunt gets injured will Ngamanu be able to step up? It will certainly be a baptism of fire.

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Jayden who?

Of course, just because these are the players named in these positions (flyhalf and fullback) doesn’t mean others can’t fill in. Duncan Paia’aua, Izaia Perese, Henry Taefu and James Tuttle all had a very good NRC seasons in 2016 and have been around the squad in one form or another for a while so should all be equally capable for filling in for a number of positions.

Now to address the elephant in the room – Hooker. No one can deny that last year was a break out year for Andrew Ready and the enthusiasm at which he goes about his work is a thing to behold. Enter stage left current Wallaby incumbent Stephen Moore. One can expect competition for that particular starting spot will be intense. Although I think that it is a pity if Squeak has been brought in above Ready, however I hope that he (Ready) and Alex Mafi see it as an opportunity to develop their skills and learn a thing or two from the “old” bull.

 

The Draw

So. Who do we play? Pretty simple really. Well, as simple as an 18 side, two group, four conference competition can be.

In the Australian conference we play the Force and the Brumbies twice, the Waratahs once at home and the Rebels once in Melbourne.

From across the ditch we meet the Crusaders and Hurricanes at home and travel for games against the Chiefs, Blues and Highlanders. Special significance will be applied to the Blues game which will be played in Apia, Samoa as part of SANZAAR’s push into the Pacific Islands.

Apia National Stadium

Apia National Stadium

From the South African group we take on the Sharks and the Kings at Suncorp and the Lions and the Jaguares in a round the world trip.

All of that means we miss the Bulls, Stormers, Cheetahs and Sunwolves.

 

The Result

Way back in 2010 the Reds were clawing their way out of a rather rough patch. We had come through 2009 with a few wins (three actually) and even more losses, but were starting the new year with a young squad and a new coach. Sound familiar?

With only three wins and a draw in the 2016 season and a for-and-against way in the negative the only way can be up. Surely. In 2010 we finished 5th on the ladder with eight wins against five losses, so here’s hoping the parallels continue. (And before any of you point out the parallels between the 2008 and 2016 season – I know, and when you are writing history you can ignore the bits that you want too.)

Just like the start of 2010, my expectations are fairly low. With a squad that is about 30% new or returning, it might take a while for them to gel into a well-oiled machine. With the coaching staff also settling into their roles I am not sure that we will trouble the competition leaders but some upsets can certainly be on the cards. Just who those leaders are at the moment, your guess is as good as mine.

My hopes are for an improvement on last year. More wins, less losses, better for-and-against record and a win against the Waratahs. Are my expectations to high?

  • Brisneyland Local

    SFR, great write up as usual.

    The Squad – Good write up with good humour. Yes we are low on the 10 stocks. What dissapointed me was we wasted Sam Greene the young Brothers boy. Gave him 35 seconds game time in one match and 5 mins in another. He appeared to be a more capable option than JM, certainly a better kicker. But alas we pissed him off enough and he left for Japan. What a waste.
    However overall I think the squad is looking pretty good, and I cant wait to watch the combinations bed down.

    The Draw – Not exactly as positive as I had hoped for, but should be a good build, if we are injury free and playing well. I dont think many of the Australian conference matches will pose the troubles the SA and NZ ones will.

    The Result – I am quitely optimistic that we might actually make the finals this year. Boldy I am predicting top of the Aus conference!

    • Pearcewreck

      Top of the Aussie hey BLL?
      So, 6th last overall?

      • Brisneyland Local

        Yep something like that!
        But as long as they have improved, I will be a happy camper!

        • No4918

          I could coach that squad and they would improve on last year. Finals or bust!

        • Brisneyland Local

          Well your name isnt Woody Graham. So yes you could do better! ;-)

    • Kiwi rugby lover

      Certainly up there with a shot mate

      • Brisneyland Local

        I am hoping so, but as a long time Reds fan I know what snatching defeat fro the jaws of victory feels like. But the trial match looked good, seeing Cooper and Hunt playing off each other was very deft, and skillful. Lets hope they can roll this into the season proper.

  • Lee Grant

    Thanks for the preview Sucker For Red it was a good read – you wear your heart on you sleeve like any good Queenslander does.

    I can see why you are getting excited about Quade being back. I think most Aussie fans are, though we hope that he doesn’t play too well against our blokes.

    One thing I like about watching other Aussie teams play is to see how new players perform. It will probably be too early for Ngamanu to get on the park this year but he was a slippery customer as a schoolboy player. (That was a fine photo of him by the way – I wonder who took it?).

    Lukhan Tui and Izack Rodda were huge, in more ways than one, for the Aus U20s last year. Tui should get more time in 2017 and Rodda could have a shout of getting a taste too. They could both have a long future in rugby.

    But the player I’m looking forward to watching most is Izaia Perese. He may not get a game this year but he was brilliant in the NRC and the mouth waters thinking about how his talent will develop – though he has been fragile when young, and one hopes that is behind him.
    .

    • SuckerForRed

      Yes Lee, our GAGR photographers are excellent. Even better when they tag their subjects so that I just have to search for the name. :-)

      I didn’t go into the locks much. Rodda really stepped up in the NRC and it will be interesting to see how he goes. Lukhan Tui intrigues me. He is built like a Lock but….. every time I watch him I really want to stick an 8 on his back.

      I can’t help but think that Perese will get some time this year. Probably off the bench. He showed some spark in the NRC and is capable cover for the centres, wings & fullback. Just hope he doesn’t suffer from the deer in the headlights when he gets a go, cause we have a habit of chucking the young blokes in the deepend and casting them aside if they aren’t an instant success – particularly in the backs.

      • Lee Grant

        The first time I saw Tui was in 2014 when he played no. 8 for NSW Combined High Schools in the Twos – though he had a longer name then.

        Virtually nobody had heard of him since he started rugby only that year but my word he was hard to stop.
        .

      • Kiwi rugby lover

        Yeah that can be hard and unfortunately you don’t have the luxury of the NZ ability to bring people on slowly. You also seem to have higher expectations of the newbies and I think that needs to be tempered. Still the good ones lap it up

    • Simon

      Perese will get a game, surely. Kuridrani might have pipped him for the early rounds with great 10s and trial form but I expect Perese to be a strong chance at a bench spot and to have the chance to earn a start at 14.

      Maranta on the other hand will need to show more than he did in the trial, I think.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Nice SFR. I actually think the Reds are going to be better this year. I agree injuries has to be their biggest concern but I think they have a well balanced team and will do better than last year. I’m not so sure that bringing in so much old and bold into the forwards will pay off as I think that they will struggle to perform consistently as the wear and tear on their bodies kicks in. I think there’s a risk with Ready as if he doesn’t get game time he may look at options elsewhere and he’d be a real loss. But on the whole they should do well.
    Biggest threat is the Force as they gave done the smartest recruiting out of all the Aussie teams and playing them twice will be hard. Good luck though.u

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@@SuckerForRed

Rugby fetishist. Reds & Wallabies supporter. Have been known to watch all grades & levels. Warning - gets fired up! And yes I am a GIRL..........

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