Reds tick a handy first box in 2018

Brett McKay Columnist

By Brett McKay, Brett McKay is a Roar Expert

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    Speaking with the four Australian Super Rugby CEOs last week was an interesting and insightful exercise on number of fronts, and reaction to the two articles were many and varied, and equally insightful from the supporter’s perspective.

    A large number of you commented on the fact that while the Brumbies’ Michael Thomson, the Rebels’ Baden Stephenson, and the Waratahs’ Andrew Hore went into great depth about how their sides are reconnecting with the community and the support and membership base, the Reds’ Richard Barker offered shorter, sharper responses. These responses confirmed the Reds as an organisation were approaching 2018 much the same way new coach Brad Thorn is: by saying as little as possible, and letting results be the barometer.

    While I can understand the Reds’ thinking, and even what might be motivating their desire to keep their head down, bum up, and just get on with things, I also tend to agree with the train of thought that this feels like a bold strategy. At a time when rugby in Australia needs to show it is moving on from a tumultuous 2017, and that things are improving in 2018, I’m not entirely sure that keeping a low media profile among six other professional football teams in Queensland is the way I’d go myself. And that’s not to totally ignore the rising profile of professional and semi-pro women’s sporting teams in the state, either.

    With all that said, the Reds making it through to the semi-finals of the Brisbane Tens on the weekend is an important first box for 2018 ticked. Over a weekend when Super Rugby regular starters were few and far between, Queensland emerging as the best of the Australian sides says something about the players in the Reds wider training squad, and even on the fringe of it trying to get in.

    It also, perhaps most importantly, says something about Thorn’s ability to bring together a squad like this and turn them into one of the best four teams of the weekend.

    Jono Lance

    (AAP Image/Dave Hunt)

    Of course, familiarity helps. Of Thorn’s 26-man squad for the Tens, 16 of them were in his Queensland Country NRC squad just a few months ago. 11 of them played in the NRC Final on November 11. And going back a bit further than that, seven players in the Tens squad on the weekend played for Thorn during the 2017 Super-20s tournament last March and April. And, of course, he was part of the Reds coaching staff last season anyway, so it’s not as if he wouldn’t have known the rest of the players anyway.

    One thing we could glean from the weekend was that the Reds do look fit. Whether that’s the right kind of fitness to last up to eighty minutes a week for six months will be revealed soon enough, but they certainly had no issue playing multiple blocks of twenty minutes over the two days. Obviously, a 26-man squad means that some guys played only one game a day, and interchange benches mean that no-one really played all twenty minutes in a game anyway. But the Reds didn’t look off the pace, and that’s important at the start of a season.

    Additionally, the Reds look to be playing with pace this year, which is something Brumbies coach Dan McKellar made mention had been a focus of theirs over the summer, and which all four Australian sides will undoubtedly need in 2018.

    The Reds had a definite acceleration about them whenever they entered the attacking half on the weekend, and with players making concerted efforts to stay alive in attack and present as options for the man with the ball. It’s a small thing to notice – and it’s in a ten-a-side game, granted – but it’s an important instinct that has to start somewhere and develop over time.

    Could it mean Izaia Perese is unleashed at fullback this year, to cover for the sudden Karmichael Hunt-shaped hole in the side? Perese is a devastating hole runner, and he certainly enjoyed the space on offer over the weekend. And he’s keen to try no.15, for what it’s worth, telling Jim Tucker in The Courier Mail over the weekend, “I’d love to give fullback a good crack because you can attack both sides (of the field), just roam around and do whatever you like.”

    I’ll be surprised if it happens, but it’s not the craziest idea ever uttered before Round 1 of a new season.

    Defensively, the Reds learned their lessons from Day 1, and looked much better for the run on Day 2. This will ultimately be where Thorn’s ‘hard work and no shortcuts’ mantra is judged. Day 2 was when defence mattered most, and the Reds were much improved. That’s another small, but not insignificant win for a young squad.

    And perhaps even more importantly, the Suncorp Stadium crowd did get behind the Reds through the weekend. Amidst all the noise about ‘never going back’ and ‘not watching this mob’, the noise grew behind the young Reds as the weekend went on.

    The Queensland jerseys had plenty of competition from New Zealand strips of great variety, of Fijian flags and jerseys and shirts that wouldn’t look out of place in Hawaii, and even from Panasonic Wild Knights supporters, but the Reds’ support was always there.

    Super Rugby Fans Reds Highlanders 2016

    (AAP Image/Glenn Hunt)

    This is maybe the biggest win of the weekend. Richard Barker made it pretty clear last week that the strategy for 2018 was to play well, win games, and the rest will take care of itself. The pro-Reds crowd on the weekend shows that this risky strategy can reap rewards.

    Now once again, this was a pre-season, ten-a-side event played two weeks out from the first games of 2018 for the Super Rugby teams on show – and I say ‘teams’ in the logos-on-the-jersey sense, rather than actual playing personnel.

    Just as the Melbourne Rebels squad for the Tens looked almost nothing like the squad that played the Brumbies in their first trial last weekend, the Tens squads will bear little resemblance to those that take the field for final trial games this week.

    So, no, you can’t read too much into a Tens result. All the proof you need for that is look at who held the Brisbane Tens trophy aloft for 2018!

    But the encouraging showing from the Reds, to go further than any other Australian side did, means that selling their first home game on March 2 against the Brumbies is already going to be easier than it was a week ago.

    Fans have seen a bit more of Hamish Stewart in a Reds jersey, of Perese in space, of Taniela Tupou carnage from short range. They’ve already got more of an idea of how the Reds want to play than they did last weekend.

    And that’s definitely a box ticked for 2018.

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (104)

    • February 13th 2018 @ 5:13am
      Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | February 13th 2018 @ 5:13am | ! Report

      Yes the Red’s CEO interview looked clumsy by comparison, Brett.
      And Perese looks exciting.
      But the Reds look a bit short of experienced 10’s.?.
      And being the ‘best in Oz’ on one weekend of Mickey Mouse footy is now a thing?

      • Columnist

        February 13th 2018 @ 9:58am
        Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 9:58am | ! Report

        It’s a ‘thing’ in the context of the weekend, Ken, absolutely. It’s a thing in that the Blues will be really pleased with where they’re heading, and that for very different reasons, the Crusaders, Highlanders, and Rebels might be looking a little closer at what their younger generation need before they take the next step.

        It’s a thing in that it’s a measurable benchmark for the end of the pre-season.

        Will it mean anything for Super Rugby in July-August? Only time will tell that. But it certainly means something for Round 1, and that shouldn’t be totally discounted – even in the context of a pre-season Tens event.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:14am
          Ken Catchpole's Other Leg said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

          Fair enough Brett. I was referring more to the ‘best in oz’ tag and thought that we could raise the bar a little higher?

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:37am
          Silver Ghost said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:37am | ! Report

          Hi Brett

          I think a side like the Crusaders, with a history and culture of building into a season and successfully challenging (and winning) championships, the pre-season comps and trials take on a different meaning, than they do for sides that need to enthuse supporters and need a flying start.

          It has surprised me that the Rebels for 2 weeks in a row have sent out ‘babies’ for their first trial and the 10s. If ever a club needed to enthuse supporters and build belief among the playing group, surely the Rebels do. I can only imagine the hype that would have come from the Rebels making the final, or winning the comp (tell’em he’s dreaming!), particularly if they had shown combinations between the old and new players.

          I think it was missed opportunity for the Rebels.

          I think your right that the Reds, particularly the supporters, will have been enthused by their showing on the weekend. How long that lasts only time will tell, but well done to them for now.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 13th 2018 @ 12:26pm
            piru said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:26pm | ! Report

            It has surprised me that the Rebels for 2 weeks in a row have sent out ‘babies’ for their first trial and the 10s. If ever a club needed to enthuse supporters and build belief among the playing group, surely the Rebels do. I can only imagine the hype that would have come from the Rebels making the final, or winning the comp (tell’em he’s dreaming!), particularly if they had shown combinations between the old and new players.

            I think it was missed opportunity for the Rebels.

            Think if they had played all their top players and been thumped – there goes the hype for the start of the season. I think this was a canny move, if the youngsters do well, great. If not, well, it’s not that big a deal.

          • Columnist

            February 13th 2018 @ 2:52pm
            Geoff Parkes said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:52pm | ! Report

            SG, the biggest issue for the Rebels right now is to establish and develop combinations. Taking the first choice side to a tens tournament this close to the season doesn’t help with that.

            The side I saw at training this morning, which looks like being the starting XV for the Tahs trial on Thursday, looks much more like the real deal. In fact only Genia and Koroibete missing from their strongest run-on XV.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 2:56pm
              Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

              Geoff, do you really think that Hodge is likely to play on the wing as opposed to in the centres in the actual SR season?

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 3:02pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:02pm | ! Report

                It wouldn’t surprise me if they use Naivalu at 13.

                Koribete and Naivalu on the wings leaves them a bit weak in some aspects such as back 3 kicking. Hodge would really help that.

              • Columnist

                February 13th 2018 @ 3:09pm
                Geoff Parkes said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:09pm | ! Report

                No. Wessels likes Hodge at 12, which is where he ran today. English at 13.
                Maddocks was running on the wing with Koroibete sitting out.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm
                Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:11pm | ! Report

                Thanks, Geoff, good to hear.

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 4:20pm
                John R said | February 13th 2018 @ 4:20pm | ! Report

                Who was running at ten Geoff?

                DHP spent plenty of time there in their trial game (from memory) which was a surprise, seeing as he had 14 on his back.

              • Columnist

                February 14th 2018 @ 7:27am
                Geoff Parkes said | February 14th 2018 @ 7:27am | ! Report

                John R – looks like Jack Debreczini is getting first crack at 10

              • February 14th 2018 @ 1:37pm
                Fionn said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 1:50pm
                John R said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:50pm | ! Report

                Interesting read thanks Fionn.

                Kicking off both feet! Rare!

                Fingers crossed that positional change turns out to be Larkham-esque. We can hope right?

              • February 14th 2018 @ 1:55pm
                Fionn said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:55pm | ! Report

                Indeed. We can only hope 🙂 .

                It could be that after the 2019 RWC when some of these younger guys like Maddocks, Banks, Kerevi, Valetini, Dempsey, Naisarani, Gordon, Powell, Alaalatoa, Uelese, Hodge, Latu, Wright, Paia’aua, etc develop that we could have a much more skilled and dynamic international side from 2020 and beyond. A lot of them look to have the ball skills and power we’ve lacked for a long time.

                I must say though, that I am surprisingly optimistic about this year’s Super Rugby competition. I think all the Aussie teams will be stronger than they were last year, I think most of them may be better coached and I feel like the Kiwi teams won’t be as strong as least year. I think we will get some quality matches as opposed to the dour rubbish the Aussie conference served up last year.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 3:46pm
                John R said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                Hope springs eternal at the start of each season! I won’t be holding my breath on the Tahs, but so long as one of our teams goes well then I’m happy aye.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 3:54pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:54pm | ! Report

                I’ve heard they’ve got a 3 year plan so you should be specials for the 2030 title.

              • February 14th 2018 @ 3:53pm
                Fionn said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:53pm | ! Report

                I think the Waratahs are better than last year. Beale solves a lot of the issues in attack and Rona is assuredly a more capable player than Horne was last year. Simmons, meanwhile, will I think add a lot to the Waratahs’ forward pack, especially in regards to the set piece.

                I’m not saying they (or any other Australian team) will be world beaters, but they do seem to have a better squad. Only question is, is Gibson up to the task?

            • February 13th 2018 @ 3:57pm
              Silver Ghost said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

              Thanks Geoff. All good points. Not many people get to go out to training, so your insight is useful.

              I’m too based in Melbourne and when i think about pre-season comp’s I think about the AFL. It’s always obvious that some AFL clubs put out strong sides to help drive membership and get the faithful enthused.

              Perhaps a win against the Tah’s will help build enthusiasm.

            • February 14th 2018 @ 3:17pm
              ThugbyFan said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:17pm | ! Report

              G’day Geoff, may you enjoy the rugby of 2018 and the year of the Dog. As you say below, D.Wessels likes the look of R.Hodge at inside centre. I totally agree and think therein lies Hodge’s future in a permanent position rather than the bloke being switched all around the shop by various coaches as “best person to fill this hole”. I would rather have R.Hodge start at #12 for the WB than K.Beale (sub). Beale may be better in attack but is a sieve in defence, and big matches are won on “de fence”.

              I have only recently seen video of some of the Wallaby EOYT games from 2016 (I was in USA at the time and almost impossible to see a rugby international). The matches I saw all of (WB vs Wales and Scotland), Reece Hodge played at #12 and he CREAMED them. Hodge also looked pretty good in what I saw of the Ireland match (Aus lost 27-24).

              As an aside, Rory Arnold and A.Coleman also tore their opposition apart in the first few games, but once they were separated the forward pack lost heaps of power (Coleman injured and missed Ireland while both missed the England game); needless to say the WB lost those two games.

              For mine, that tour unearthed our two best 2nd rowers and the best inside centre in Australia. So what happens in the very first international matches for June 2017, Arnold had been axed and Hodge sent to coventry (the wing). This continued all through 2017, the disaster called EOYT2017 demonstrates what a good move that was. And you wonder why I lost faith in the WB coaching group. 🙁

              • February 14th 2018 @ 3:28pm
                Fionn said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                This is a good comment, Thugby.

                I am still yet unsure if Hodge is better at inside or outside centre, but in my eyes an outside centre’s most important quality is the ability to make his tackles and read the attack to be able to position himself in defence. Hodge looks like he would be able to do this better than he would be able distribute like a 12 needs.

                That said, he definitely has the look of a Frans Steyn about him in some ways, so maybe you’re right and he is a longterm 12.

                Cheers 🙂

    • February 13th 2018 @ 5:35am
      Mike said | February 13th 2018 @ 5:35am | ! Report

      Just look at the 2017 Brisbane Tens. The Bulls made the semis, but were the worst SA team in Super Rugby 2017.

      • February 13th 2018 @ 8:31am
        TOCC said | February 13th 2018 @ 8:31am | ! Report

        Yes Bulls made the semis last year, but so did the Chief, Hurricanes and Crusaders, and they all featured in the Super Rugby semi-finals 6months later. So it’s not to be completely discounted.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 3:55pm
          cuw said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:55pm | ! Report

          it only shows that – no matter what the tournament is , the NZ teams will be right up there 😀

    • Roar Guru

      February 13th 2018 @ 6:54am
      Kia Kaha said | February 13th 2018 @ 6:54am | ! Report

      Cheers, Brett.

      Perhaps the Karmichael Hunt and Quade Cooper sagas are driving this low-profile strategy and the CEO’s waiting for the regular season to get underway before launching a media offensive.

      I agree it does seem odd but it does seem typical of Thorn: heads down and don’t start yapping until the effort’s put in.

      • Columnist

        February 13th 2018 @ 10:01am
        Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:01am | ! Report

        There’s a lot of similarities between the way Thorn is looking after his young Reds to how he looked after his young Qld Country side last year, Kia.

        Do the hard work, with and for each other, learn from the mistakes and enjoy the rewards; I agree, it does seem very typical of Thorn.

        • Roar Guru

          February 13th 2018 @ 10:03am
          Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:03am | ! Report

          Do the mahi, get the treats?

          • Columnist

            February 13th 2018 @ 10:14am
            Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:14am | ! Report

            Exactly!

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 10:31am
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:31am | ! Report

              Honestly I thought there were some really bad signs, but also really good signs so hard to make out where the Reds stand.

              A lot of the key issues that were supposed to be the focus seemed worse than 2017 early on for example.

              The fringe players and guys only on training contracts seemed to actually pick up the intensity.

              • Columnist

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:33pm
                Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:33pm | ! Report

                TWAS, it was probably the way they improved from the Friday to the Saturday that planted the seed for this column. They looked very different in their first Sat game from how they looked in the last Fri game, and that made me look at them a bit closer..

              • Roar Guru

                February 13th 2018 @ 1:37pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:37pm | ! Report

                To me the biggest bad signs were that the top team were the poorest performers, and there was signs of impatience and kicking the ball away in attacking positions even on day 2.

                But as you said, chalk and cheese when you compare the improvement.

    • February 13th 2018 @ 7:20am
      Cynical Play said | February 13th 2018 @ 7:20am | ! Report

      Well Brett, they were the only team with home-ground advantage. 🙂

      They were shocking in the first game but found something after that. Please don’t let Kerevi be captain Brad.

      I think the CEO/coach are tight-lipped because they are winging this. They don’t know how it’s going to go. Sure they have enough talent to be hopeful than they might win a few but this Reds outfit are built on sand. I am not convinced by their pre-season prep of not playing other teams.

      Perese, Duncan P, Kerevi will be a handful on attack no doubt. Cant help but imagine QC feeding them, which remains a possibility despite the coach’s words. I suspect he’ll play 10 at some point. Defence will be an entirely different matter

      • February 13th 2018 @ 7:48am
        Rhys Bosley said | February 13th 2018 @ 7:48am | ! Report

        I’m not sure about your strategy of commenting on the prospects of other teams, when the Tahs have given no reason for anybody to believe that they will do any better than last year’s woeful performance.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:04am
          Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:04am | ! Report

          You can’t but agree that the Reds’ defence may be the only question mark.

          Rhys, didn’t you say that Perese was primarily an outside centre? Do you think he would be up to defending at 13 at SR level yet?

          This would allow Kerevi to play at 12 and Duncan to play at 10.

          If Hunt’s charges are dropped or he is not convinced then I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see him playing for the Reds this year. At the moment all they are are allegations.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 11:07am
            Tony said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:07am | ! Report

            Fionn,

            Hunt will not play for the reds until his court hearings are finished ( Channel 9 and 7 said this) the next is one June or something.Forget Hunt.He is out for the year I reckon.

          • Roar Rookie

            February 13th 2018 @ 1:39pm
            Don said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:39pm | ! Report

            The ideal scenario IMO is Duncan Paia’aua at 10, Kerevi at 12 and Chris Feauai Sautia at 13 with Jono Lance playing 15.

            I get the feeling Cheika would like to see how DP goes at 10.

            Assuming Hunt doesn’t play again.

            • Roar Guru

              February 13th 2018 @ 1:43pm
              Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:43pm | ! Report

              I really don’t see our the ideal scenario is DP at 10. I don’t think he was even 2nd choice 10 for QLD Country.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 1:52pm
              Jameswm said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

              CFS defending at 13?

              • Roar Rookie

                February 13th 2018 @ 2:08pm
                Don said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:08pm | ! Report

                I get what you are saying. But he is a good defender.
                It’s yet to be seen whether he can defend at 13 which is a whole different kettle of fish.

                One thing I expect from Thorn is that players will defend in the same position they play in attack.

            • February 14th 2018 @ 10:11am
              ScottD said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

              I think they’ll play Jono Lance at 10. I know the east coast didn’t rate him last year when he was at the Force but he is a quality 10 and more than capable of delivering for the reds in that role. He is a good distributor of the ball and the strongest defender at 10 in Australia by a country mile.
              His only issue is staying injury free.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 10:20am
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 10:20am | ! Report

                The East Coast? Or Wessels who often benched him?

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 12:18pm
                John R said | February 14th 2018 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

                Cheika rated him enough to select him in the Wallabies squad.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 1:09pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

                Was Lance in the squad last year?

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 1:52pm
                John R said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:52pm | ! Report

                Ah he might not have been actually. Definitely was 2016, I’ll have a wee look.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 1:54pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:54pm | ! Report

                Certainly was for the EOYT!

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 1:58pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 1:58pm | ! Report

                Actually I think he wasn’t in 2017 because we all specifically noted that there was no back up flyhalf.

              • February 14th 2018 @ 5:48pm
                scottd said | February 14th 2018 @ 5:48pm | ! Report

                No TWAS – Wessells didn’t bench him. What he did was to conserve him because Lance had recurring injury problems. This has been discussed at some length on this site. Lance is a very very good front on defender (the best defensive 10 in the country last year) but he got injured (and played injured) a lot.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 9:07pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 9:07pm | ! Report

                So he didn’t play off the bench? Must have been mistaken

              • February 14th 2018 @ 5:52pm
                scottd said | February 14th 2018 @ 5:52pm | ! Report

                Here is the QLD team to plaly FIJi – just announced. Lance in at 10.

                1. James Slipper – Bond University

                2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank (uncapped)

                3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers

                4. Lukhan Tui – Souths

                5. Kane Douglas – Norths

                6. Caleb Timu – Souths

                7. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland

                8. Scott Higginbotham (C) – Wests

                9. James Tuttle – GPS

                10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland

                11. Izaia Perese – Easts

                12. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths

                13. Samu Kerevi – Souths

                14. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths

                15. Aidan Toua – Easts

                Reserves

                16. Alex Mafi – Bond University

                17. JP Smith – GPS

                18. Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland

                19. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland (uncapped)

                20. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland (uncapped)

                21. Moses Sorovi – University of Queensland

                22. Hamish Stewart – Bond University

                23. Filipo Daugunu – Wests (uncapped)

                26. Liam Wright – Easts (uncapped)

                27. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland (uncapped)

                28. Teti Tela – Souths (uncapped)

              • February 15th 2018 @ 1:23am
                scottd said | February 15th 2018 @ 1:23am | ! Report

                TWAS, don’t be silly.
                As I said, Lance was conserved due to injury issues. He often played when not completely fit because the squad didn’t have 23 fully fit players. In those game he came off the bench. He also acted as emergency reserve for a game (or two?) and never came on the field. That does not equate to the coach not rating him, which is what you tried to suggest.

            • February 14th 2018 @ 3:36pm
              ThugbyFan said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:36pm | ! Report

              Don, DP may have got a meat pie in that rubbish match against the “Alan Jones probables” but some of his L to R passing was pretty horrible. He didn’t really take control and direct the backs and I have never seen DP chip or grubber kick behind a rush defence. A good #10 should have all of these qualities in spades.

              D.P also has repeatedly said in interviews that he prefers playing at #12. Though he is a mite too small for an international #12 I think he would make a good fist of it, but he needs a lot of practicing and playing at #10 before he could be considered to oust B.Foley.

              • Roar Guru

                February 14th 2018 @ 3:46pm
                Train Without A Station said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:46pm | ! Report

                Paia’aua – 91kg
                Beale – 90kg
                Karmichael Hunt – 93kg
                Farrell – 96kg
                Bundi Aki – 100kg
                Hadleigh Parkes – 100kg
                Huw Jones – 96kg

                I’d prefer a bigger 12 but providing he can defend there well he’s not that far off the pace, and he’s not too different from the other 12s that tend to be preferred over him by Cheika.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 7:27pm
            Rhys Bosley said | February 13th 2018 @ 7:27pm | ! Report

            I think Kerevi is in trouble with selection Fionn, based on his poor 10s showing and what we saw last year with the Wallabies. His defence and discipline are not up to scratch and even if he gets selected at the beginning of the season, I can’t see Thorn tolerating much of that going forward.

            Given that Toua has been bought back and Perese has been give a go at fullback, I think we will see Lance, Pai’aua and Fea’Sautia at 10, 12 and 13. CFS played there for Country and did well in both attack and defence, so Thorn will instinctively trust him.

            I would love to see Pai’aua at 10, but given changes that have happened since I last wrote about it, I can’t see it happening.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 8:13pm
              Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 8:13pm | ! Report

              I’d be more than happy for Kerevi to join the Brumbies were that to happen… ?

              But I feel the same way about Quade too.

              • February 13th 2018 @ 8:25pm
                Rhys Bosley said | February 13th 2018 @ 8:25pm | ! Report

                Lol, don’t worry, I doubt we would be giving up Kerevi. He just needs to be relieved of the distractions of leadership roles and be intensively schooled on defensive decision making, as well as improving his upper body strength, because he often drops off seemingly completed tackles.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:06am
          Cynical Play said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

          I don’t have a strategy.
          Its an opinion and comment forum boofhead.
          For what it’s worth I hope the Reds go well.
          Don’t you go commenting on the Tahs now Bos, lest someone comment on your commenting.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 12:41pm
            Phil said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

            Yes,I thought it was rather a strange comment from Rhys Bosley.Surely we are allowed to comment on any teams performance.The Tahs certainly get enough comments from everyone,so not sure where he is coming from.I,for one,hope all the Aussie teams do well and am not like some of the contributors on here who seem to derive satisfaction from other teams misfortune.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 1:51pm
              Cynical Play said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:51pm | ! Report

              Well…taqele naiyaravoro has shed 12-14kgs, and Hannigan has bulked up 5-8 kgs, so I’m thinking things are already better…. on the weight distribution front at least

              • February 13th 2018 @ 2:16pm
                JP said | February 13th 2018 @ 2:16pm | ! Report

                CP ,

                It really doesn’t matter how many kilos Ned has put on.that just means he`ll be even slower to the breakdown and even more pedestrian with his carries.

              • February 14th 2018 @ 3:41pm
                ThugbyFan said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

                And TN is leaving at the end of the year for some English club.

                Strange that none of them want our “ned”. Not to worry, Cheika will look after him. 🙁

            • February 13th 2018 @ 7:18pm
              Rhys Bosley said | February 13th 2018 @ 7:18pm | ! Report

              Phil, my comment was only directed at CP.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 7:17pm
            Rhys Bosley said | February 13th 2018 @ 7:17pm | ! Report

            Don’t worry, you won’t catch me floating around taking unsolicited cheap shots at the Waratahs or any other team, especially before they have even started the season.

            And why don’t you bother to contribute an article some time, instead of just constantly negging in the comments section? Just sayin’ …

            • February 13th 2018 @ 9:05pm
              Cynical Play said | February 13th 2018 @ 9:05pm | ! Report

              Because it’s a comments section and most people voice their comments in the forum. Seems reasonable to me. Why don’t you write another article Bos instead of attacking me for a valid opinionated comment. Or are you going to play the same as last year where some comments are deemed unworthy by you so you play the man. Perhaps re-read what I wrote and have a cup of tea.

      • Columnist

        February 13th 2018 @ 10:05am
        Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

        CP, it’s just as plausible that they are tight-lipped because they don’t see any merit in speaking. Of course they don’t know how it’s going to go, but neither does the coach of the side who have been ‘training the house down’ and are ‘really confident we’re heading in the right direction’.

        Cooper may be back, he may not. Until he is – and I’m not sure he will be – there’s no real point imagining him there…

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:08am
          Cynical Play said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          I’m an imaginer Brett. Can’t stop.

          • Columnist

            February 13th 2018 @ 10:15am
            Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:15am | ! Report

            And I wouldn’t want you to, CP! Imaginers make the world go ’round…

      • February 13th 2018 @ 11:21am
        savant said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:21am | ! Report

        Yes im going to be interested in Thorn’s attitude to Kerevi. In the Tens I saw him miss tackles again, make several loose carries, and give away a stupid penalty for a neck roll – all of this from a senior player in a semi final.

    • February 13th 2018 @ 7:38am
      bigbaz said | February 13th 2018 @ 7:38am | ! Report

      As long as Brad leads the prayer meetings Jesus will look after them.

      • Columnist

        February 13th 2018 @ 10:06am
        Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:06am | ! Report

        I’m going to be completely honest here, Bigbaz, I don’t really see what this comment adds, nor the point of making it. It even reads like a bit of an unnecessary cheap shot.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:08am
          bigbaz said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:08am | ! Report

          it was

          • Columnist

            February 13th 2018 @ 10:13am
            Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

            As long as you feel better about yourself, then…

            • February 13th 2018 @ 8:26pm
              Dan in Devon said | February 13th 2018 @ 8:26pm | ! Report

              I think he is mocking journalists who seem to be buying into a narrative of Thorn as messiah. The season is long and coaches are not made in February.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 9:31pm
              bigbaz said | February 13th 2018 @ 9:31pm | ! Report

              Probably better than an atheist or some one from another religion playing for the Reds at this time.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 12:25pm
            TC said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:25pm | ! Report

            Baz is big in Baz’s world

            • February 13th 2018 @ 9:32pm
              bigbaz said | February 13th 2018 @ 9:32pm | ! Report

              Mate, I’m huge

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:33am
          Charlie Turner said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:33am | ! Report

          The prayers can’t hurt but it probably makes it a bit awkward for the non believers. I’m more concerned by Barkers comment that he’s required to knock out push-ups and crunches prior to addressing the team. Poor Dumper, he’d have a stroke after a set of five push-ups……….doctors note please.

          • February 14th 2018 @ 3:48pm
            ThugbyFan said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:48pm | ! Report

            Maybe Barker would be better cleaning the change rooms after training. Players see this happening and accept the idea that everyone is in this club together and no matter what our roles are, we do our best for the team.

            Making the CEO do push-ups must be one of them quaint NZ things. As a player I would have giggled and dialled 000 for the ambulance. 🙂

    • February 13th 2018 @ 10:05am
      Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:05am | ! Report

      Brett, I can’t help but look at this Reds team and think that they would be a whole lot stronger with Rob Simmons in the 23. Ah well, it is the Waratahs’ gain. Can see Simmons adding a lot to the Tahs this year, and can just imagine him wreaking havoc on the Reds’ line out when the Tahs play the Reds.

      • Columnist

        February 13th 2018 @ 10:11am
        Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:11am | ! Report

        Yeah, that may be true, Fionn, but when you’ve got some genuine young talent like Rodda and Tui, Douglas there as for experience, and the likes of Hockings and Blyth pushing up from below, I suppose it becomes a simple case of maths.

        It may well have come down to a choice between Simmons and Douglas, even, but that’s just me saying that. But certainly, with Rodda, Tui, Douglas, and Simmons there together, someone was going to have to miss out, weren’t they..

        • February 13th 2018 @ 10:13am
          Fionn said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          I don’t think Douglas can be put in the same level of Simmons these days, Brett. From what I read it was just Simmons’ back luck to be off contact. I get that sport is a business these days but Simmons has showed a lot of loyalty to the Reds.

          They really lack experience in the tight 5 now (with the exception of Slipper) as I can’t see Douglas making the 15 based on his recent form, and I can see that lack of experience coming back to bite them.

          • Columnist

            February 13th 2018 @ 10:17am
            Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:17am | ! Report

            Oh, there’s risk attached no doubt, and I agree with the bad timing element completely. We don’t even know, Thorn may have even preferred Simmons for exactly the reasons you highlight, given the choice, but it was made before his time started..

          • Roar Guru

            February 13th 2018 @ 10:32am
            Train Without A Station said | February 13th 2018 @ 10:32am | ! Report

            Yep. Agreed.

            Simmons was an unfortunate situation off the back of the Douglas signing in 2015.

            I’d imagine if Simmo and Douglas were off contract, we’d see Simmons still around.

          • February 13th 2018 @ 12:44pm
            Phil said | February 13th 2018 @ 12:44pm | ! Report

            Fionn,it was interesting to see Beau Robinsons’ opinion of Simmons.Guys who have played with him obviously appreciate what he can do.

        • February 13th 2018 @ 11:33am
          MARTO said | February 13th 2018 @ 11:33am | ! Report

          Kane Douglas is atrocious Brett…Even the TAHS don’t want him, Cheika got him back form overseas to play for the Reds ( Not the Wallabies as he stated) ( Same with Leroy ” butter fingers ” Houston, the reds fans let out a massive groooooan when he was coming back,he was so hopeless in the Brisbane tens last year he never played a game for the REDS in 2017, now he is gone.What a waste of money time resources and energy on him..The bloke still cannot hold onto the ball in contact .He had that problem in 2010 2011 when the REDS punted him and still has it.

          It`s PAYBACK by Cheika. ( the Waratah sleeper in Gold) Cheika makes the call, the Tahs swoop on the uncontracted much better lock Simmons as Douglas was signed up by Cheika for the Reds and we had future young guns Tui Rodda and Hockings already on the books…Chuckles is not as dumb as he looks….He loves his Tahs more than his Wallabies….

          We all know it Brett..You know it Brett..

          • Columnist

            February 13th 2018 @ 1:35pm
            Brett McKay said | February 13th 2018 @ 1:35pm | ! Report

            I know that you’re once again sprouting things you’ve made up, Marto…

          • Roar Rookie

            February 13th 2018 @ 3:13pm
            Don said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:13pm | ! Report

            Nice rant Marto.
            As much as I’m not a Douglas fan, he was liked and wanted by Cheika but also only wanted to live in Brisbane.

            Leroy Houston was on a very low value contract and was worth a risk v reward punt.

            Bigger mistakes like recruiting a “past it” Stephen Moore when we had 3 good hookers in Saia, Ready and Mafi were more cause for concern than having Kane Douglas parked for a few years largely funded by the ARU.

            And I hope Simmons absolutely brains it at the Tahs. The guy has been one of the most maligned players and maybe fans of the sky blue can understand the value of him in a side this year.

            • February 13th 2018 @ 3:41pm
              MARTO said | February 13th 2018 @ 3:41pm | ! Report

              Thanks Don,

              1. Faingaa twins wanted out back home i heard. Swap for Moore?

              2. Douglas has done nothing for the Reds or Wallabies since his arrival ( and nothing really ever in his career but be a useless log ). Thorn cannot possibly pick him even if the ARU are paying most of his salary.Tui Rodda and young skyscraper 206 cm Hockings must be the three locks game day.

              3. Houston did nothing for the Reds or Wallabies , so the risk was not rewarded. Reds lost money
              ( very low as you said, but still a loss of Reds $$ )

              4 .Moore wasn’t a mistake Don. Moore played every test for the Wallabies after moving to the Reds.Cheika loved his work.lol

              5.Simmo, well good luck to him .The Tahs fans love him now and appreciate his lineout skill now he is in their colours..Notice after he signed with them around July/August he was never dropped from Cheikas Wallaby 23 in 2017.. but in 2016 as a QLD RED, he was dropped 3 times to play NRC .hahahaha

              Cheika loves his Tahs.

              • February 14th 2018 @ 3:00pm
                jimbo81 said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:00pm | ! Report

                Amen.

              • February 14th 2018 @ 4:06pm
                ThugbyFan said | February 14th 2018 @ 4:06pm | ! Report

                hey Marto, I hope your point #4 about S.Moore was said in jest.

                I guess you can’t blame the player for wanting to play for his country but S.Moore should have retired after the 3rd Bledisloe. What a great way that would have been to finish his WB career.

                Instead he ends in on the disaster EOYT2017 and the ignominy of thrashings by England and Scotland. Worse still his presence impedes the gaining of experience for the next gun hooker J.Uelese.

            • February 14th 2018 @ 3:57pm
              ThugbyFan said | February 14th 2018 @ 3:57pm | ! Report

              Don, and don’t the Tahs need him. SR2017 was an absolute disaster for the Tahs. The Lock stocks in Tahland 2017 looked like some Shute Shield club side. They had to do something about it and have picked up R.Simmons and T.Staniforth.

              A real shame they didn’t loosen the purse strings and grab one of the Force locks as a back-up, there was plenty of them on the market.

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