The Queensland Reds have struggled for consistency over the past several seasons. Following the high of winning the competition in 2011, the Reds have only made the finals twice. Nonetheless, their performances last year could be a step in the right direction, as they recorded 6 wins and 10 losses; their most wins in a season since 2013.
The Reds can be grateful that they have former All Black player, Brad Thorn, as the coach of the team. Thorn is a dual international, having played for the All Blacks in rugby union and the Kangaroos in rugby league. As a player, he was highly regarded for his training ability – a theme he has replicated in his coaching style, since taking over the head coach role in 2018. If there is anyone that can get the team to a new level of fitness, it is definitely Thorn.
Players to watch
Samu Kerevi, the Reds skipper, is one of the key players to watch in the 2019 season. Kerevi has 23 international caps for the Wallabies and is known for his ability to break the line and bust tackles. In terms of international players, the Reds also have the “Tongan Thor” at their disposal, Taniela Tupou. Tupou had a breakout season last year and his work in the scrum and around the contest will be crucial. The Reds also have Izack Rodda and Lukhan Tui to bolster the forwards, two players equipped with recent international experience. In addition, Scott Higginbotham has one more year left on his three-year contract and holds the record for the most tries for a forward in Super Rugby history.
The not so good
Where the Reds lack real strength is in the backline. Having lost Karmichael Hunt to the Waratahs, the Reds don’t have a lot of international experience in their backs. Thorn put a line through Quade Cooper’s name a long time ago and Cooper has subsequently moved on to the Rebels. Hamish Stewart is a good young prospect for the future, widely touted as a future Wallaby back, however, for the time being, the Reds will likely encounter problems in the backline.
The Reds have a bye in the opening round of 2019; however, they face the Highlanders away from home in Round 2. They then take on the Crusaders, the current Super Rugby Champions, before facing the Waratahs at the SCG in Round 4. The Waratahs were the best Australian team last year. It’s definitely a rough start for a team already under the pump. The first few rounds could either make or break the Reds’ 2019 campaign.