Super Snapshot: Can the Reds scrum launch an attacking season?

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Reds

SQUAD

IN: Jack hardy, Feao Fotuaika Gavin Luka, Efi Maafu, Fraser Mcreight, Harry Wilson, Matt McGahan, Jock Campbell, Will Eadie, Sefa Naivalu, Bryce Hegarty 

OUT: Sef Faagase, James Slipper, Markuz Vanzati, Andrew Ready, Kane Douglas, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, George Smith, Quade Cooper, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Jayden Ngamanu, Izaia Perese, Nick Frisby, Karmichael Hunt

Angus Blyth, Jock Campbell, Filipo Daugunu, Will Eadie, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Feao Fotuaika, Jack Hardy, Bryce Hegarty, Scott Higginbotham, Harry Hockings, Harry Hoopert, Samu Kerevi, Adam Korczyk, Gavin Luka, Efi Ma’afu, Alex Mafi, Tate McDermott, Matt McGahan, Fraser McReight, Sefa Naivalu, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Duncan Paia’aua, Jordan Petaia, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Salakai-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, JP Smith, Ruan Smith, Moses Sorovi, Hamish Stewart, Teti Tela, Caleb Timu, Aidan Toua, Taniela Tupou, James Tuttle, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright

Boom recruits

Sefa Naivalu

Sefa Naivalu is really the only high-profile addition to the Reds squad and you'd expect him to make an immediate impact. Naivalu arrived in Queensland as part of the deal that sent Quade Cooper to the Rebels and he will add a finishing ability they desperately need.


Bryce Hegarty

Hegarty came to Queensland in a swap for Karmichael Hunt at the start of this year and his utility value can not be underestimated. He is primarily a fullback but has also filled in at 10 in the past. A really consistent player who has had unfortunate injury luck through his career but will be the kind of hard working player that Brad Thorn likes.

Burning questions

Can Taniela Tupou can turn his 2018 improvement in around the ground domination?

Tupou has been one of the most popular figures in Super Rugby since he first came into the Reds set up but he is not quite the complete package. Made some huge strides in scrummaging last year but will be expected to step up again.

Can Hamish Stewart stamp his authority at 10?

The Reds halves have a major question mark hanging over them with little experience or depth and Stewart will need to take much of that on his shoulders as 2019 kicks off.

Will Lukhan Salakaia-Loto settle as a six or a lock?

The Wallabies clearly view the rising star as a flanker but he has mainly paired up with Izack Rodda in the second row for the Reds. Queensland's forwards enjoy huge depth and Salakaia's selection will be an intriguing one. 

Can Jordan Petaia force his way into the World Cup squad?

Jordan Petaia was the surprise packet of 2018 and was just a niggly hamstring away from making his Test debut in Italy last November. His biggest challenge will be working to maintain that level in 2019 and potentially put himself in the World Cup frame.


Style guide

Big Strengths

Scrum power

One look at the Reds forward pack and opponents will be feeling nervous. In their trial against the Chiefs, they wielded their scrum dominance to create opportunity after opportunity at Ballymore. 

Tireless defence

The Reds' defence wore teams down in 2018 and under the "Game of Thorns' philosophy that Thorn forged initially with the Queensland Country side, they became a team you couldn't count out. A young team tired towards the end of the season and at times made it too easy for teams to score on counter attack but Brad Thorn's p

The Reds were disappinted after a loss to Sydney. Photo: Getty ImagesKerevi's line bending ability

Samu Kerevi is the Reds' most dangerous attacking weapon as it stands and his ability to break a tackle and make ground will be invaluable again this year. He will have more support in that space this year with the addition of players like Naivalu, the growth of Petaia and that should help him turn his influence into team success.

The weak links

Attack

The Reds had the lowest average score per game in 2018 and that is a feat they simply can't repeat in 2019. The backline needs to ensure the go-forward of their pack translates into attacking threats this year, something that will be a big focus this season.

Playmaker depth

There will be a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of Hamish Stewart after the departure of Jono Lance to Worcester and he has little support behind him. The Reds have recruited Matt McGahan to add some depth and experience but their halves combo will still be by far the greenest of the Australia and there will be little margin for error.

Experience

The Reds' preseason mantra has been "no excuses" based on the age of their squad but it is inevitable that at times their inexperience will hurt them. Managing players' workloads will be vital to ensuring their chances of success with many of their squad still in their developmental stages of their careers

What they need to win Super Rugby

Key stats

Yellow cards

The Reds were the equal-most carded team in the competition in 2018. Albeit, the champion Crusaders were up there as well, but playing a man down is something the Reds can ill-afford in crunch games.

Tries scored

If the Reds can lift their scoring potency, they can be a genuine threat in Super Rugby. 

PREDICTIONS

Who will get the most cards in 2019?

Taniela Tupou 

Who will score the most tries?

Sefa Naivalu

Who will win the end-of-season award for most valuable player?

Jordan Petaia

If the Reds were a Netflix show, they'd be ....

Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. Brad Thorn has taken the broomstick through the Reds group since taking over and ensured that the only players left are the ones that spark joy.