O'Connor not preoccupied by coaching future

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

As the season winds down, the selection process for the Reds’ new coach is progressing but interim co-coach Matt O’Connor isn’t distracted by his potential future.

Reports have suggested a number of potential international recruits, including Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder and former England mentor Stuart Lancaster, but O’Connor said he hadn’t been privy to any discussions.

O’Connor, who along with fellow interim coach Nick Stiles was reportedly included on the shortlist, said his focus was simply on getting through the final two matches.

“It's about trying to get the best out of the playing group,” he said.

“It's not about me or (co-coach Nick) Stilesy, it's about trying to get the best out of the group for two games to go and we'll worry about that after that.”

Todd Blackadder is reportedly in the mix for the Reds coaching job. Photo: Getty ImagesHaving taking over the coaching reins after round two, O’Connor said the side’s work ethic was the most impressive factor.

“The desire in the environment to work as hard as we can is the pleasing thing,” he said.

“That's how you get better, is by working on your game and the guys turn up every week, understanding that we've had deficiencies...that we're looking at and try to be better.

“That's what we can ask from the playing group is that they have a clear understanding that we've got to work harder and got to improve and got to make sure that moving forward we don't deliver the same errors that we delivered the previous week.”

There will be some fresh combinations for Queensland against the Chiefs, with Duncan Paia’aua coming into flyhalf and Kane Douglas starting at lock.

Nick Frisby will need to take charge of the Reds halves this weekend. Photo: Getty ImagesScrumhalf Nick Frisby will play a vital role in helping Paia’aua, who played the second half against the Brumbies at flyhalf but has mainly played inside centre at club level this season.

Frisby said Douglas’s return would be a boost for the young side, though some of the new blood had impressed him.

“Getting such an experiences player like Kane back really beneficial for the squad and then to see young guys come through and take the opportunity as well, it's great for the team,” he said.

“(Lock) Lukhan Tui in his first start last week really stood up for the squad and everyone knows how talented the Thor (Taniela Tupou) is is so it's been good to see him develop and learn and to see him get his first cap last week and perform the way he did is really promising.

“We're excited about what's building there and at the same time very focused on the next two games.”

Wallabies lock and Reds vice-captain Rob Simmons will miss the remainder of the Super Rugby season, with O’Connor saying his view was now on getting fit for the Rugby Championship, kicking off in August.