Tim Horan is loving the Queensland Reds’ “fearless” football but says he will wait another week before judging the improved side’s Super Rugby credentials.
The Reds put 10 tries on the Sunwolves last Saturday in a record-breaking win to break a run of three encouraging losses to start the season.
They host the in-form Sharks (3-1) on Saturday at Suncorp Stadium before a trans-Tasman trip to play last year’s champions the Crusaders in round five.
Those teams boast some of the world’s best players, with South African backs Makazole Mapimpi and fullback Aphelele Fassi firing the Sharks past the Melbourne Rebels last week and the Highlanders the weekend before.
Queensland’s new-look halves combination of Tate McDermott and James O’Connor has impressed, while centres Hunter Paisami and Hamish Stewart have combined well and fullback Jock Campbell has flourished.
Horan, a long-time force in the centres for club and country, admitted it was a joy to watch the revamped backline in full flight but their efforts over the next fortnight would be revealing.
“There is no fear in how they’re playing; there’s an excitement about it and you can put that expansive play down to (attack coach) Jim McKay,” said Horan, whose son Alex will make his Super Rugby debut on Saturday for the Sunwolves.
“But you’ve got to be careful. I’d say in 10 days (after they’ve played the Sharks and Crusaders), you’ll see just how well they’re going.”
Coach Brad Thorn has encouraged the side to play with freedom but says that isn’t always the most-practical approach.
“If you look at any time in my career, I’m the staunch hit-up, tight guy but the (NRL’s Brisbane) Broncos we played attractively, the Crusaders, All Blacks played a great brand,” Horan told AAP.
“I love that continuity but, sometimes, you might have that dull game – just trying to win but, generally, we want to be expressing ourselves.”
As for how they planned to break down the Sharks’ high-octane approach, Thorn was cagey.
“We’re backing ourselves to compete hard against them; they’ve been the talk of the comp,” he said.
“They’re very sharp all over the park … I just think it’s good timing (for us).
“It’s their last game (of a three-game tour) and they’ve had a fair trip away – you take your hat off to them.”