Glimpses of champion team in Reds: McKay

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

The man in charge of the Reds' attack the last time they beat the Crusaders says he sees plenty of parallels between that side and the rebuilding Queensland team of 2019.

Jim McKay joined the Reds in 2010 when a young side narrowly lost its first-round clash before stopping the Crusaders juggernaut the following week.

Queensland went on to beat the Crusaders the following year to take the Super Rugby title in front of more than 50,000 fans at Suncorp Stadium but have not been able to win against the champion Kiwi side since.

But in signs the Reds are again on the up, McKay, who joined Brad Thorn's staff in the off-season, believes last week's season-opening effort against the Highlanders in Dunedin showed good things are ahead for the Reds.

The Crusaders beat the Hurricanes last week to notch a 17th consecutive win, breaking their own Super Rugby record.

Queensland Reds celebrate winning the 2011 Super Rugby title. Photo: Getty Images

And McKay said a key to their success was a clear understanding of how they wanted to play the game.

It's something the Reds are attempting to replicate, although in a uniquely Queensland style.

"We're still getting a clear understanding of our game and what that looks like," McKay said.

"We spent a hell of a lot of time in the pre-season on our fitness and Bryn (strength and conditioning coach Bryn Abad) and his team there have done a fantastic job.

"The defence with Peter Ryan, that's an area we've been working on as well.

"The attack probably takes longer to get going because you've got the ball, so it's a bit more complicated.

"But certainly the intent and the endeavour has to be there every week and we want to be more consistent in that space.

"Our intent is to go for it and our focus has been on our game.

"We're Queenslanders, so we're going to go for it."

McKay has an outstanding record against the Crusaders in his time at the Reds and has long studied the consistency with which they play.



But he said as a former Crusaders player and Super Rugby championship winner, Thorn had a greater insight into their mindset.

"We've talked about what we've done before -- it's a different team and different players -- but he also understands their psyche as well," McKay said.

"Rugby's still a pretty simple game -- you've got to win the ball and go forward - and if you keep working hard and defend well and work hard off the ball, they're the areas we're going to be working on.

"We can control all those things -- how hard we work, our determination and attitude.

"But they're not just going to lie down and give you a couple of tries, you've really got to work hard and keep plugging away and then looking for an error or mistake."

Brisbane is expected to hit a balmy top of 27C on Saturday and with more rain expected, handling will be a greater issue than it was in the protected Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin last week.

Brad Thorn in action for the Crusaders. Photo: Getty Images But McKay said the Reds would accept no excuses for poor performances, having adopted a near enough is not good enough policy this season.

"We have no excuses whatsoever in what we're doing," McKay said.

"In theory, we should have a competitive advantage because we play here all the time, similar to the Bulls who train at altitude.

"I think it should be a competitive advantage for us but there's certainly no excuses.

"The weather's a wee bit unsettled, you do need to adapt and adjust your game but not a lot will change for us."

The Reds take on the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday March 2, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT (6:45pm local), LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.