Reds back forwards to shake Force bogey tag

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Bring on the battle of the big boys up front.

That's the message from Reds prop Sam Talakai, who expects nothing less than brutal physicality when his team takes on the Force at nib Stadium tomorrow night.

The Force have forever been a bogey team for the Reds, with the visitors having won just one of their last seven starts against the men from Perth.

They were also the straw that broke the camel's back in 2016, with their 22-6 win at Suncorp Stadium marking the final time Richard Graham's name would appear on the Reds team sheet as coach.The Force marked Richard Graham's ultimate demise at Ballymore. Photo: Getty ImagesThose losses have all followed a similar formula.

The Force have battered the Reds at the breakdown with sheer physicality and a solid set piece, grinding their way to points and suffocating the Reds' attack.

Talakai told media at Brisbane Airport this morning that had to change.

"All over the pack they’re similar hard-working, very physical pack that we’ve had trouble against in the past," he said.

"We expect nothing less going out there and playing in front of their crowd for the first time this season.

"Last week they troubled the Waratahs but we back ourselves on the set piece as well so it will be a good contest this weekend."Sam Talakai forms an integral part of the Reds pack. Photo: Getty ImagesTalakai also expects a big showing from former Reds veteran and fellow prop Ben Daley.

"Dales will definitely come out with a chip on his shoulder after being at the Reds for, I think, eight seasons and he’ll be looking forward to putting in a good performance against his former club - I would expect nothing less from Dales," he said.

"He will come out hard and so will all the Force team."

When questioned as to the validity of having five Australian Super Rugby teams, Talakai used his rise from Sydney University to the Reds leadership group in the space of three years as evidence of the benefits having five teams holds.

"A lot of the players, especially in the Australian Conference, we want to keep those five teams.

"I don’t think dropping one team will strengthen the Australian Conference," Sam Talakai

"For me, especially, having to come up here to get an opportunity with the Reds, a lot of guys throughout the country have been able to do that so staying strong with five teams is definitely something that not just myself and the Reds but all the playing group feel strongly about."