Higginbotham demands strong Reds finish

Super Rugby
by AAP

Planning for 2019 can wait as far as Queensland Reds captain Scott Higginbotham is concerned.

A Super Rugby season that promised plenty has gradually disintegrated for a young Reds side, who seemingly have little at stake over their their last three games.

Not so, says Higginbotham, whose 13th-placed team meet the 14th-placed Blues in Auckland on Friday.

It's a clash which could have wooden spoon implications if the last-placed Sunwolves can mount a late-season charge.

Beyond that, Higginbotham is anxious that the Reds start to heed the harsh lessons of 2018, having followed a three-from-four start to the season with a run of eight losses from their next nine matches.

Scott Higginbotham is at risk of suspension. Photo ;Getty ImagesHe said no player can afford to ease off, with coach Brad Thorn having already proven he can be brutal with his selection pen after shutting out playmaker Quade Cooper all season.

"We'll wait and see when the season ends. There's guys off contract. There will be new guys coming in so you have to see how the squad will shape up," Higginbotham told AAP.

"So for now, we all have to focus on what's directly ahead of us."

The Reds, who suffered four straight losses before the international break, meet a Blues side who have dropped their past three.

After this week they'll be motivated to win home matches against the Rebels and Sunwolves, having lost heavily to both teams this season.

Higginbotham expects the likes of young forwards Lukhan Tui, Caleb Timu and Brandon Paenga-Amosa to make an impact after shining brightly at times during Australia's 2-1 series loss to Ireland.

"It was great for them to get that experience at that level and hopefully they can bring that back with them for these last three games," said the former Wallabies No.8, who is especially proud of the progress made by fellow-loose forwards Timu and Tui.

"They're great guys and I suppose the best thing about both of them is that they ask questions. It's been great to see them grow their football."

The Reds take on the Blues at Eden Park on Friday night, kicking off at 7:35pm local, 5:35pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.