The Queensland Reds currently sit fourth in the Australian conference with five wins from thirteen games.
And another tight loss to the Chiefs last round makes it sound quite dire for the Ballymore faithful. But there is still reason to believe in Queensland.
I think that despite the moaning and groaning you hear here and there, most Queenslanders, and those around the country would admit that the Reds have done a pretty decent job this year.
Sure, they have not quite produced the results hoped but they have improved significantly upon last season.
Five of their losses have been ten points or less to teams of the quality of the Crusaders, Rebels and Chiefs.
Compared to last season, they lost by less than ten points only three times from their ten losses. In those ten losses, the Sunwolves put sixty points on them, the ‘Tahs fifty and the Brumbies and Rebels also managed to chalk up forty-five each as well.
In a squad full to the brim of exciting young talent, the only way is up for the Reds. The pick of the bunch at the moment you could argue is Tate McDermott.
The Sunshine Coast Grammar graduate is being touted as a possibility for the World Cup, backed by former Wallaby David Campese.
Schoolboy sensation, Jordan Petaia, was cruelly injured in the early rounds of the season after an encouraging start in the first few matches.
The Brisbane State High School product is also being talked of highly in rugby circles and has a promising career ahead of him. In the forward pack, you only have to look at guys such as Angus Blyth and Harry Hoopert.
The 2.04-metre Blyth has had some really impressive games in the past few weeks partnering with fellow lock, Izack Rodda. Hoopert, on the other hand, has also had some opportunities in the last little while and was part of the Australian U20’s in 2018.
One of the most impressive aspects of the Reds at the moment, in my opinion, is their dedication to grassroots.
It is not unusual to see a Reds player back playing for their senior club in Queensland Premier Rugby when they have a week off or are allowed to play.
This weekend at the University of Queensland, it was the 2018 Grand Final re-match between UQ and GPS. Having played just 24 hours earlier, it was great to see UQ player Tate McDermott down at St Lucia along with Angus Scott-Young, running drinks and being in around the group.
The message that sends to the younger generation and those in club-land is that club rugby is still a valued part of Reds rugby. This reduces the barrier between the Reds and grassroots level and this is something the Reds (I believe) are doing really well.
Another thing that I have noticed is that there seems to be a decent ‘culture’ at the Reds. I know that ‘culture’ word is a very cliché thing to say around professional sporting teams but there is a reason behind me making these comments.
Many have condemned Thorn for getting rid of Quade Cooper, Karmichael Hunt and James Slipper. And while I believe that these three players are all very good rugby players, I can see where Thorn is coming from.
They all did things that were not acceptable for someone who is portrayed as a role model.
Despite the fact that Cooper and Hunt did excellent stuff around Souths while they were exiled from the Reds, I think Thorn was brave in making the call to not cave in under public pressure. It does send a strong message to current and future Reds players of what is and isn’t acceptable.
At the Reds vs Waratahs match two weeks ago, there was a moment’s silence before the match. It was great to see Samu Kerevi walk over and link arms with the referees along with the other Reds players and observe the moments silence alongside them.
These actions promote positive behaviour towards our match officials and set a great example for all youngsters sitting in the stands at Suncorp Stadium that night or watching on T.V.
Samu Kerevi always seems to speak diplomatically at post-match press conferences and represents himself and the Reds in a really good light.
I am by no means suggesting that other Super Rugby sides don’t do similar things to the stuff I have mentioned. As someone involved in grassroots rugby in Brisbane, I am merely expressing what I see at club/school level and the brand and image the Reds display.
With a combination of quality players, some good on-field success this season, and what seems to be a healthy culture within the club, the Reds could have the recipe for future success.
Club and school rugby continues to produce exciting prospects and create a healthy atmosphere around our great game. I only hope that the people of Queensland continue to be a part of rugby and stay involved in the game and see long-term, not short.
This Saturday will be a great match against the Jaguares at Suncorp Stadium. The Reds showed tenacity and resilience last week but couldn’t quite get over the line (quite literally).
The Jaguares are in great form and are looking like one of the form sides of the competition.
The Reds will be in their Indigenous jersey this weekend (which looks awesome by the way) and hopefully, a decent crowd rolls through the turnstiles. A win this weekend may revive hope in Queensland that there is still reason to believe!