Reds utility Tela ready to step up against Sharks

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Queensland utility Teti Tela could be in line to add to his sole Super Rugby cap, with Reds captain Samu Kerevi likely to be rested for this week's clash against the Sharks.

Reds coaching staff were set to hold preliminary discussions on their squad on Monday after assessing any injury concerns arising from Sunday morning's loss to the Bulls in Pretoria.

With no major injuries reported, Kerevi is likely to be rested in line with the pre-World Cup rotation policy given his heavy workload to this point in the season.

The captain, who scored a double in the Reds' loss to the Bulls, travelled to Durban with his side though rather than immediately heading home to get extra rest and fitness work into his legs and could yet play, although early plans were to rest him from the match.

If Kerevi is missing, Reds coaching staff are unlikely to pair Chris Feauai-Sautai and Sefa Naivalu in the centres, believing the pair's direct running style is too similar.

Instead, Tela who made his Super Rugby debut in the final game of the season last year, could be deployed at 12, or given his versatility, come off the bench to shift into flyhalf, fullback or inside centre.

Attack coach Jim Mackay is a believer in having a playmaker at 12, an option that would give Tela a sniff of selection if Kerevi is missing.

"I think you need a little bit of craft there," he said.

Reds utility Teti Tela could add to his single Super Rugby cap against the Sharks this week. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

"One of the problems we had against the Bulls was just our ability to get the ball wide, so I think you can't just have two complete direct, up and down runners there. You've got to look at the balance of our game."

The Reds were guilty of playing too narrow on the field, failing to involve their outside men after failing to properly use the limited possession they had.

"We won the ball but then you've got to be able to retain it and create some quick ball," Mackay said.

"If we're being honest, we let ourselves down with our accuracy.

"And then we weren't able to create enough quick ball to get it to the edges when we needed to.

"We've got to lick our wounds and be better than that.

"We need a bit of kicking variety and a bit of balance in how you play in attack."

Mackay believes Tela could bring that to the team if he gets his opportunity.

"He's a terrific allorund character and what he brings is a slightly different element to the group," Mackay said.

"He's slightly older, at 28, and he's won a premiership at UQ (University of Queensland) off the bench when Mike Harris came back and started and also a premiership at Souths.

 

"So he's used to winning and he's an unbelievable team man and offers some good utility value at 10, 12 and 15.

"He communicates really well and is quite a good student of the game, I think that's through having played a lot of games and having played a lot of rugby.

"He's got a good temperament and if he were to play, I'd be really delighted for him."

With the rapid rise of young playmaker Isaac Lucas, who remained in Australia on Junior Wallabies duties, and the addition of Bryce Hegarty to the Reds outfit, it would have been easy for Tela to drop his head.

But Mackay said he had been an outstanding member of the squad.

"He's an unbelievable citizen, he helps the others and he keeps trying to improve his own game.

"But he's fighting as well and he needs to be to get in the team."

Mackay said the Reds' performance in Pretoria had been "unbelievably frustrating" for the group.

"It takes quite a lot out of you emotionally," he said.

"But you've got to dust yourself off because the games keep coming."