Superboot Harris starring for Reds

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    Queensland five-eighth Mike Harris says he’s thriving on the pressure of filling Quade Cooper’s shoes and is confident he can continue to help the Reds maintain their Super Rugby dominance.

    Winger Dom Shipperley’s post-siren try clinched Queensland’s thrilling 25-21 victory over NSW on Saturday night, but it was the clean striking of Harris which kept the visitors in the match and positioned them for their miracle finish.

    All eyes were on Harris and what change his presence at No.10 would make to the defending premiers.

    The Reds might have missed the injured Cooper’s touch of individual brilliance at times against NSW, but already Harris is making his own mark.

    Through the trials and round one he’s booted 30 goals from 31 attempts (including six from six against NSW) and by following his plan of not trying to be a Cooper clone, he provided the base Queensland needed to snap a nine-year hoodoo against the Waratahs in Sydney.

    “I’ve always quite enjoyed pressure and that’s why I’ve goal-kicked from a young age,” Harris said.

    “There’s always going to be pressure on a new team coming in, I didn’t read into outside influences and just listened to the guys that matter in the team.”

    Harris also showed he’s prepared to run the ball and some promising incisions were only let down by the Reds’ rusty ball-handling.

    Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie said Harris’ performance was no surprise, and described him as an intelligent footballer with the ability to take the team forward.

    “I recruited him, so I recruited him for a purpose,” McKenzie said.

    “What’s that now he’s kicked – 30 out of 31 kicks at goal? That’s a good stat, you’d take that anywhere in the world.

    “He’s doing what we want … he understands our game.”

    Although disappointed his team clocked off in the shadows of fulltime, NSW coach Michael Foley was pleased with the performances of man-of-the-match Sarel Pretorius at halfback and stand-in captain Daniel Halangahu at five-eighth.

    With Berrick Barnes expected back from a groin injury to face Melbourne on Friday night, Foley now has a decision to make about whether to drop Halangahu back to the bench or keep him at No.10 and shift Barnes to inside centre.

    Halangahu revealed post-match he was going to start the Reds match at five-eighth even before Barnes was ruled out, because the Wallabies’ playmaker’s groin was restricting his kicking game.

    South African recruit Pretorius scored with 13 minutes to go to give NSW what looked like a match-winning lead, and Halangahu said the crafty No.9 was in for a big season.

    “Sarel is incredible to play with, his speed around the field is something that lifts the rest of the team and I think he’s going to be crucial to us having that attacking spark … he’s an absolute live-wire,” he said.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (4)

    • Roar Guru

      February 27th 2012 @ 11:44am
      Hoy said | February 27th 2012 @ 11:44am | ! Report

      Man he kicked well, but boy did it show how badly we will miss Cooper in the coming weeks. I certainly wouldn’t say he “starred”.

      I don’t know whether everyone was rusty or what, but his passes to get the backline going were often off target.

      He did best I think when he took the line on and offloaded.

    • Roar Rookie

      February 27th 2012 @ 12:49pm
      Comrade Bear said | February 27th 2012 @ 12:49pm | ! Report

      I am not sure if you could expect any one player to make line break after line break against the Waratahs – which is what I feel many expected of Harris. Attacking players such as Digby and Genia either didn’t appear to create much – it wasn’t really that type of game. He was however very solid in every aspect apart from passing – which was pretty ordinary for both team across all backs.

      Passing will definitely improve though and from that so will the pressure and line breaks. Top kicking though – great for the team.

    • February 27th 2012 @ 2:34pm
      Spooony said | February 27th 2012 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

      Pretorius also the player who missed a lot of tackles lasty season. In fact he was the leader in that department. Harris cost his team 3 turn overs more than Genia. So he was not that special except for knocking ones over but that is expected of him.

    • February 27th 2012 @ 5:36pm
      Gary Russell-Sharam said | February 27th 2012 @ 5:36pm | ! Report

      I have to say that the match I watched didn’t have Pretorious as the man of the match. He played very well, however he lacks a quality pass, he is average at passing and probably makes up for this lack of ability with his speed off the mark. He did score a good try typical of a good half back. I thought Harris had a solid game, as did Higginbotham. Actually I thought he was the difference in the forwards. Gill did well when he came on. As for NSW as a team they had a superior front row and were better than the Reds but hangers at fly half is not up to super rugby standard they really missed Barnes. They were a trifle unlucky not to secure the win. The game was rather sloppy in handling and skill executed, while you can say its early in the season that surely is not the best excuse for professional players to be using, I thought the ski8ll level was rather poor.

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