Reds-Tahs no ordinary clash: Stiles

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Queensland-New South Wales rivalry is the greatest in rugby and Nick Stiles will drill that into his players over the next week.

Stiles spoke with passion when asked about the clash with the Tahs next Saturday - a match that will define the season of both teams.

Reds-Tahs clashes since the turn of the decade have been particularly lopsided - the Reds winning five straight between 2011 and 2013 before the Tahs started a five game winning streak of their own.

But next Saturday's clash will be a meeting of two teams that have pieced together patches of good rugby without setting the world on fire en route to a pair of wins each.

That gives the match even more importance, not that it needed any to start with.

"There is nothing normal, in my eyes, about playing the Waratahs," Stiles said.Nick Stiles celebrates a win over the Tahs with Chris Latham in his playing days. Photo: Getty Images"The landscape has changed from the early days where there weren’t a lot of representative games and the Queensland-NSW clash was everything.

"But with the advent of Super Rugby and the expansion of Super Rugby, you get to play a lot of football games and that has seen it drop off a little bit.

"But this game means a lot to me and hopefully that will rub off on the playing group."

Stiles and contact coach Brad Thorn put the squad through a heavy session in their return to Ballymore today, with the players given the majority of the bye week off.

The heavy session will be the only rugby related work for the core of the squad, though 14 players will return to their Premier Grade teams on Saturday.

The light week has come at the perfect time as Queensland's performances since returning from South Africa and Argentina have indicated they were well overdue for a bye.

Along with the Blues, they are the only team to play eight straight and it showed in the second half against the Hurricanes, Brumbies and Kings.Quade Cooper made an enormous difference on the Reds attack against the Kings. Photo: Getty Images"There’s the physical aspect, definitely, playing eight games straight," Stiles said.

"Only the Blues and ourselves did that which, on top of all the travel, is physically draining but you have to look at the fact that we haven’t got the full 80 minutes out this year.

"Through games you’re not always going to have it your own way but that consistency is definitely something that we are chasing.

Bragging rights against NSW are just as important as the team's standing on the Australian Conference ladder but Stiles would not entertain talk of winning the conference.

"For us, the challenge is to just win back-to-back games - we have only won two games and that’s not good enough," he said.

"We are getting improvement with Quade and Karmichael back in the team last week that faced the Kings.

"You just saw the physicality that K brings and the opportunities that Quade creates - with those guys in the side it’s a good time to be playing the Waratahs.

"We just want to win back to back before we even think about winning the conference."