Reds recruit Henry Speight says a combined training session with the NRL's Brisbane Broncos has helped the Reds raise their intensity levels just over a month out from their first Super Rugby trial.
While the Reds will kick off their Super Rugby campaign against the Brumbies in Canberra on January 31, they returned to pre-season training later than the Broncos and Speight said Saturday's session at the NRL club's HQ at Red Hill was a valuable "pick-up in pace".
Several of the Reds have hardly stopped this year, with many in the squad having played the recent NRC season, while the team's World Cup representatives, who only returned from Japan just over a month ago, still to return to training.
"It was a bit of a pick-up in pace but we only have, realistically, three training weeks before our first trial game and it's going to come around pretty quick," said Speight, the former Wallabies winger who has joined the Reds this season from the Brumbies.
"The more we can do stuff like that - running our shapes against quality opposition who can really test us in some of those games - it's really going to benefit our squad."
Slogging it out in 36 degree heat in Brisbane was little fun for either team but Speight said it was valuable.
"It was good, tough, but both squads embraced it and embraced each other and it was very good to experience that," he said.
"I've never been a part of a cross-code training session, so it was a good initiative from both coaches.
"It's just an opportunity to come together and see how each other work and function as a unit and there's a lot of things we can take out of that and vice-versa from the Broncos' point of view.
"We're representing Queensland and Brisbane, so to be coming together every now and then is a positive thing."
Broncos coach Anthony Seibold has invited other codes into his training sessions in the past, including the Waratahs when he was at the helm of the South Sydney Rabbitohs.
While they play different codes, Seibold said there was value in the meetings.
"I'm a big supporter of rugby union, I love the catch and pass and the skill level of rugby, so to bring the Reds down here with Brad (Thorn) and Peter Ryan, some guys who are really familiar to us here at the Broncos and have been great servants of the Broncos, it was great for us to host the Reds," he said.
"I'm very respectful of what Brad's trying to do there and I'm a big supporter of where they're going as a club and a franchise, so it was a great opportunity for us to compete."
Thorn and Ryan are among only a handful of players to have won NRL and Super Rugby titles, while Thorn is also a World Cup winner with the All Blacks.
Speight said the respect held for the coach by both clubs was amazing.
"A lot of our boys were looking at the Broncos boys - some of the Origin boys and Test players - and then Thorny walks in and there's just a bit of an aura about him and both squads respect him and even the trainers and coaches," he said.
"He's a very humble man and he lives by his actions and that's something we're trying to emulate."