Reds look to reserves for extra fire power

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Queensland’s bench has to stand up against the Chiefs, interim skipper James Slipper says.

The heavy travel toll of recent weeks showed in some of those new faces against the Waratahs, but Slipper said they were keen to be finally back in action on their home soil.

“We came off a pretty big travel tour, we went around the world and back some,” he said.

“I think especially with the young players in the squad, it's the first time they had to travel so far and for two games and then to come back and play in Canberra and then go to Sydney, it's quite a bit of travel. I think it's just a new thing for these young players.

"I think we've been a bit guilty of being a bit flat coming into the last two games, so we tend to start the games alright but we tend to fall off, where at the start of the year we were pretty competitive the whole way through the whole game, so we're expecting our bench to come on and really fire for those last 20 minutes this week."

George Smith has been effective for the Reds. Photo: Getty ImagesSlipper hopes their late fadeouts will be rectified this week, with the injection of George Smith on the pine, a handy reserve to have waiting in the wings.

"He's (Smith) experienced but he still competes very hard and he's proved at this level, time and time again,” he said.

“So, I guess having someone like Georgey on the bench and (being able to) inject him late in the game will help, especially with the young players in the squad and up against a good opposition like the Chiefs (will be good).

The Reds’ attack has come under fire in 2018, with Queensland’s 131 points the lowest tally in the Australian conference, but Slipper said he was more concerned about stopping points.

With Brad Thorn sticking to his decision to move away from Quade Cooper and Karmichael Hunt, the enterprise is left on the shoulders of a young squad.

“The Chiefs can score points, they can score points from anywhere and that goes for most of the teams this year,” Slipper said.

“We created a lot of opportunities but probably haven't executed them as well as we've liked.

“The opportunities are there, it's just about polishing off on that final pass or maybe not throwing that final pass and building pressure.

“We've definitely got points in us, but what I'd like to see is us tightening our defence a bit."

The match against the Chiefs will be Queensland’s 1000th capped rugby match, a milestone Slipper said would be all the more special at home.

“It's obvious when you come to Ballymore, the tradition, he history this place has,” he said.

“Queensland rugby, it's been around a long time.

“To be a part of the 1000th game is pretty special and one we're looking forward to. Obviously we're playing at home too, which adds a bit of extra to it.”

The Reds will be looking to break a near two-year Australian drought against New Zealand teams when they face the Chiefs, after the Rebels and Brumbies both lost their first trans-Tasman encounters this season.

The Reds host the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO. Buy tickets here.