Reds vs Sunwolves: Kerevi warns of Little threat

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Reds captain Samu Kerevi has nominated Sunwolves counterpart Michael Little as the man Queensland needs to nullify to ensure it opens its Super Rugby account.

Once Super Rugby minnows, the Sunwolves are being taken seriously by every rival this season after upsetting the Chiefs in New Zealand and pushing the Blues last week.

The Reds have their own scars from encounters with the Japanese side - wounds that were mostly self-inflicted last year in their 63-28 drubbing in Tokyo - and desperately need a win on Saturday to give momentum to a season that has started with three consecutive losses.

Kerevi is no stranger to Little given the pair played together at under-20 level for Fiji but the New Zealand resident remains a threat the Queensland captain said his side had to contain.

"We played together in the Fiji under-20s and he's a very dangerous player and he's been playing really well for the last couple of weeks, so he's probably the danger man in the field," Kerevi said.

 

But it's in the forwards that Queensland will look to dominate, despite inconsistency having recently crept into an area the Reds regard as their greatest strength.

"The lineouts and scrums, we fell away from that in the last couple of weeks and that's one of our strengths, so just getting back to that (is a focus)," Kerevi said.

"And obviously the physicality of the game. The Sunwolves are a pretty mobile pack and we've got to be physical against them."

Both Kerevi and coach Brad Thorn had noted the improvement of the Sunwolves and know the Reds are in for a tough test at the Prince Chichibu Stadium, especially without Wallabies forwards Izack Rodda and Taniela Tupou, who are being rested.

The pair trained in scorching conditions at Ballymore on Friday morning as their teammates prepared for the match but Kerevi hopes their absence can be covered, especially if the versatile Lukhan Salakaia-Loto continues to lift his intensity as he moves into the tight five to cover for Rodda.

"A player like Lukhan, he's been physical for us for the last couple of weeks, so we really want him enforcing that," Kerevi said.

 Michael Little of the Sunwolves is tackled by Samu Kerevi of the Reds during the Super Rugby match between Sunwolves and Reds at Prince Chichibu Memorial Ground on May 12, 2018 in Tokyo, Japan. Photo: Getty Images

While the Waratahs admitted to being thrown out of their own structures when they escaped with a one-point win against the Sunwolves earlier in the season, Thorn was not overly concerned the same would happen to the Reds.

"I just think they play good, running rugby, have a good skill set at speed," he said.

"They move the ball around and don't die wondering.

"Obviously we're looking to play our own game.

"We're enjoying working to move the ball also, just our ball control has been a challenge for us but we have areas of the game that we feel we have strengths, so we'll be playing our game and they'll be playing theirs and I feel it makes for an interesting game."

The Reds take on the Sunwolves at Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium in Tokyo on Saturday, March 16, kicking off at 3:15pm AEDT, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.