Back-row bottleneck no problem for Houston

Super Rugby
AAP
by AAP

Leroy Houston is ready to fight for a position in arguably the strongest back-row unit in Australian rugby.

Houston, 30, came from the clouds to win his debut Wallabies cap last year and is desperate for a platform to further impress coach Michael Cheika by carving out a place in Queensland's starting 15 this season.

A former fan favourite at English Premiership club Bath, Houston will need to beat former Wallaby Scott Higginbotham and highly rated youngster Caleb Timu - regarded by some at Ballymore as a future Wallaby - to get hands on the No.8 jersey.

That would mean the luxury of playing alongside veteran great George Smith and Japanese international Hendrik Tui, who are likely to be the first-choice flankers.
Houston will be looking to help the Reds improve on their disappointing 2016 season. Photo: Getty Images.The Reds are tipped to be big improvers in 2017 and Houston wants to be a major part of it.

"It's a huge challenge but I strive for that," he said.

"Me personally, I don't feel any expectation. I just feel like, I'm trying to make the starting 15.

"It might be a selfish goal but for now it's just focusing on playing good footy and trying to make that starting 15 week in, week out.

"We're going to push each other to play to the best of our ability and better rugby. Hopefully it leads to success for the team." - Leroy Houston
Houston has trained the entire summer at Ballymore after signing with the Reds in May last year, ending a five-year stint in European rugby.

He also played off the bench at Twickenham against Argentina in October to make his first Wallabies appearance, which came more than a decade after he was first included in a Test squad.

"I haven't had a full-on pre-season like this for a while," Houston said.

"I had ones overseas but because the seasons are so long over there, they don't push you as hard.

"How tough the pre-season is, the (heat) just puts it on another tenfold. But you can't knock the weather, the sun's real beautiful."

Houston is likely to make his first appearance for the Reds at the inaugural Brisbane Global Tens on February 11-12.

The Queensland Reds kick off their 2017 Super Rugby season at Suncorp Stadium against the Durban Sharks. Memberships can be purchased at www.redsrugby.com.au

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