Reds half McDermott blocks out World Cup chatter

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

Tate McDermott is determined to block out any chat about becoming a World Cup bolter to focus on helping the Reds deliver on the tantalising glimpses of form they have showed this season.

Losses to the Waratahs and Brumbies over the weekend have delivered the Reds realistic hope in the battle for the Australian league and consecutive conference clashes against the Sunwolves, Rebels and Waratahs in the next three weeks will tell the tale of their season.

Livewire scrumhalf McDermott provided the spark for the Reds' initial turnaround this season, scoring the final try in their second-half fightback against the Sunwolves in Tokyo.

He came off the bench in that match but his spark has been rewarded by coach Brad Thorn with a start in the no.9 jersey since and his performances have been attracting plenty of attention.

Former Australian captain Mark Ella used his weekend newspaper column to campaign for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to take a punt on McDermott for the World Cup and he is not the first to suggest the 20-year-old should be included in the squad for Japan.

McDermott won't deny his longterm goal to pull on the gold jersey but wasn't about to buy into the conversation, despite having been made aware of Ella's comments.

"I don’t really tend to read too much into that because my sole focus is on the Reds," he said.

Tate McDermott is all smiles after helping the Reds to a win in Tokyo. Photo: Getty Images

"I'd be lying if I said I didn't eventually want to play for the Wallabies but at the moment, you've got your Will Genias and Nick Phipps, your Jake Gordons and Joe Powells and even Nic White.

"So there's a big list of established players that are still playing good footy.

"I haven't looked too much into that but I'm solely just playing for the Reds and playing the best footy I can for my state.

"I've got a job here to do so I can't get my feet off the ground."

It was McDermott's mother who made him aware of Ella's comments but the Sunshine Coast product said it was also family who kept him most grounded.

"They just said: 'Oh Tate, there was another bloody article about you'.

"It's not really (hard to ignore). My family keep me pretty grounded.

"And I'm watching all the other games, so I see the other halfbacks doing well, it's great for the country.

Tate McDermott training with the Reds. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

"I haven't honestly looked at the Wallabies, I don't expect anything.

"But if I'm still playing well and that happens - or if it doesn't - so be it."

McDermott's focus is on the Sunwolves though and helping the Reds prove their win over the Sharks in Durban was no fluke.

"A lot of times this year we've said that a performance is a line in the sand," he said.

"We said it in Tokyo, we said it before the Rebels game, and a lot of the time we haven't actually backed that up.

"This is the line in the sand for us in terms of this season.

"And that game against the Sharks definitely put us in a good place.

Will Genia was instrumental in the World Cup. Photo: Getty images

"We still needed a few results to go our way over the weekend and they did, so for a young group, this is a massive opportunity for us leading into the Sunwolves and then the Rebels and the Tahs.

"So (there's) a lot of belief in the group and also a lot of excitement because there's something there to be salvaged and we're up for the challenge."

Last week's bye could have been a momentum stopper but McDermott said it was well-timed to rejuvenate the players ahead of Friday's crucial clash.

"We need to come out and make a statement and show them we mean business this time," he said.

"We're not here just to make up numbers, we're genuinely serious about our chances of making the finals and making this state that once was proud of our game, back on the Reds bandwagon."

The Reds take on the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, May 3, kicking off at 7:45pm, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.