The Reds desperately need a win against the Waratahs to keep their finals hopes alive but coach Brad Thorn says it won’t be the only measure of their improvement this season.
Queensland sits third in the Australian conference after 13 rounds with five wins, equalling their entire season tally from 2018.
The Reds have lost their past 10 encounters against the Waratahs and though Thorn said keeping their season alive was their main focus.
“I know there's improvement and obviously you want to beat those New Zealand teams and you want to beat the Waratahs but there's no question there's been growth,” he said.
“There's been improvement, there's been a lot of young guys developing in their game, so that's a positive but the main focus for me, I think for the club, is winning.
“You play to win and you play to go further than just the season.
“You want to go into the finals and most of the Super Rugby comp is in with a chance so there's 15-odd teams thinking they want to be in the finals as well. It's actually quite a juicy competition.
“It's quite an interesting one - wouldn't know who's going to be where in five weeks' time.
“For us, that's something that is obviously, we're keen on going further but coming back to this week it's all about the Waratahs and as we've said, they've been a tough opponent for us.”
When it comes to improvement, monster prop Taniela Tupou has been one of the most markedly improving players in recent weeks and Thorn said he had surely pushed himself up the Wallabies pecking order with that form.
“I'm a Reds coach, so obviously I've got bias but you've got a 133kg tighthead scrummaging prop,” he said.
“If he's harnessing all that he has and discipline and has that focus and that form, it's a good prospect for a national coach to have because at World Cups, set pieces are important.
“We just want him enjoying his footy, working hard and putting in a good performance on Saturday.”
Thorn said he was “disappointed” that he wouldn’t be able to call on Isaac Lucas’s services with the youngster unavailable due to Junior Wallabies commitments.
The Junior Wallabies go into camp in Sydney this weekend ahead of their World Rugby U20s Championship in Argentina.
“Isaac, he's an outstanding talent,” Thorn said.
“We were pleased he's come through his rugby through the 20s and the NRC and all that
“He's played eight games this season so a bit disappointed that he can't represent us on Saturday.
“We're pleased that he can be a part of the Australian 20s and that they can build for the World cup that they're having.”
Utility back Hamish Stewart will also be missing with a shoulder injury but Thorn said he didn’t expect him to be out for long.
Duncan Pai’aaua, Jock Campbell and Aidan Toua are among the names who could step up in Lucas and Stewart’s absence.