Quade dares to dream of Reds Super win
Quade Cooper expects “80 minutes of brutal rugby” but is dreaming big and shooting for a tryfest against NSW to fire the Queensland Reds into an unlikely finals berth.
Facing a difficult play-off equation, Cooper said the Super Rugby champions wouldn’t be limited by the desire for a four-try bonus point against the Waratahs as coach Ewen McKenzie has called for “the perfect game”.
The Reds enter the last round needing to score one competition point more than South Africa’s Bulls and Stormers, or otherwise need the Brumbies and Crusaders to suffer shock losses.
As those four teams above the seventh-placed Reds (53 points) are all at home and playing cellar-dwelling rivals, they realise only a bonus-point victory on Saturday night at Suncorp Stadium will give them a solid shot at defending their 2011 crown.
But McKenzie said his side will chase perfection, executing their game plan to the letter, rather than throwing the ball around carelessly without first gaining control of the game.
“What we need is the perfect game this weekend to ensure that we get our best ladder position possible,” McKenzie said.
“One thing I can guarantee is we haven’t played it yet. It’s still ahead of us and I’ve been saying to the players that we’re still to play our best game of the year.
“This week would be very timely.”
While the Reds have only once achieved a four-try bonus point against their arch-rivals, back in 2003, they have a wildcard in their pack with Wallabies X-factor Cooper back to full fitness and confidence.
The mercurial five-eighth produced his best game of the year in the 19-13 win over the Highlanders and Queensland looked dangerous each time he touched the ball.
Cooper knows it will be another State of Origin-type encounter but the Reds are helped by experience in winning big games at home last year against the Crusaders, Blues and Waratahs.
Like McKenzie, he said the Reds wouldn’t fall into the same trap as the Highlanders who spurned a series of early penalties in the hope of a bonus point.
“The Highlanders’ approach was to go out there and run us off the field and score as many points as possible and it kind of backfired,” he said. “It would have been better off for them to just get the win.
“For us, we have to focus on the win first, play well, execute and then let the tries come after that.
“Of course we want to score four tries or more, but who’s going to put a cap on that, we could score eight tries, 10 tries, who knows?
“We just have to make sure we go out there and do the small things right.”
The Reds have been helped by winger Digby Ioane (pneumonia) and Liam Gill (hamstring) training on Monday while McKenzie will give lock Rob Simmons (cork) until later in the week to prove his fitness.
Meanwhile in injury news for NSW, Sekope Kepu (calf) and Wycliff Palu (shoulder) will be assessed during the week.
Kepu was a last minute scratching from the Waratahs’ loss to the Brumbies and Palu damaged his shoulder during an awkward fall in the first half.
Palu has been cleared of a fracture and will be monitored by medical staff, with coach Michael Foley expected to name his team on Wednesday morning.© AAP 2013
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