'Boxing styles make fights': bruising Reds-Chiefs rivalry set for latest bout

Mon, Jun 3, 2024, 6:00 AM
Lachlan Grey
by Lachlan Grey

Rival coaches Les Kiss and Clayton McMillan cut a relaxed pair during Monday's weigh-in but there'll be no love lost when the Reds and Chiefs enter the ring on Friday night.

Queensland this week head to Hamilton for a return bout of last year's quarter final at FMG Stadium, where the then-minor premiers emerged 29-20 victors en route to a home grand final.

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Yet the Reds will hold no fear after downing the Chiefs 25-19 in Round 3 and swinging their way to a famous 25-23 win in New Plymouth during the 2023 regular season.

During Monday's joint press conference, both coaches were quick to acknowledge the growing rivalry and respect between Queensland and Waikato since Super Rugby went Pacific.

"It’s probably not just that last game (In Brisbane), it’s probably the last five or six games where we’ve probably gone hammer and tong at each other and probably given as much as we’ve got," McMillan told rugby.com.au.

"I said to someone the other day boxing styles make fights and or some sort of reason when we play the Reds we bring out the worst and the best in each other.

"I’ve been impressed with how the Reds have played all year, they look like a happy bunch so Les and his crew have done a good job, they look really clear on how they want to play the game and we’re expecting a real challenge."

Kiss said recent battles had forged a "mutual respect" but was quick to downplay the Reds' earlier success over McMillan's side, highlighting the Chiefs' ability to adapt and redirect play.

"Our whole team respect the Chiefs massively .. and it’ll be a fantastic challenge for us to see where we are in terms of finals footy," Kiss said.

"They set a standard, play with a direct style very effectively and DMac (Damien McKenzie) just pulls it apart from there but they don’t just rely on one style.

"They can go wide quickly, they can go through the middle and you know when DMac’s also kicking goals for seven-point tries, it makes them difficult to reel in if they get a bit of a start.

McMillan admitted he was "pretty happy" to see the back of Harry Wilson after the number eight's barnstorming form against his Chiefs but remains wary of Queensland's multiple threats.

Harry Wilson is confident the new Reds attacking style can bring the best out of his game again. Photo: Getty Images

"(Harry Wilson)'s done a bit of damage to us over the last few years but as is always the case, when one falls over another steps up in his place so we’ve been impressed with a number in their side," McMillan said.

"McReight is hard on the ball … a great link man and a real workhorse so we’ve got to have our eyes peeled for him and make sure that he doesn’t have the influence I’m sure Les and Reds would love him to have."

Tate McDermott, I'm really an admirer of his game … also probably one of the unsung heroes is someone like (Josh) Flook in the midfield, he's an awesome defender.

"There’s a lot of speed in the Reds backline so it’s a tough nut to break down. When you think you’ve created an opportunity, they’re quick to shut it down.

"There’s threats all across the park and we respect them just as much as they respect us."

Teams will be announced Wednesday 2pm AEST. Catch up on all the latest Super Rugby Pacific finals news here.

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