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Reds confident in depth amid COVID disruptions

Mon, 10/01/2022, 3:54 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Reds are confident they can deal with COVID disruptions despite being forced to drag former Wallaby and GM of Rugby Sam Cordingley into training after a cluster of cases. Photo: QRU/Tom Mitchell
The Reds are confident they can deal with COVID disruptions despite being forced to drag former Wallaby and GM of Rugby Sam Cordingley into training after a cluster of cases. Photo: QRU/Tom Mitchell

The Queensland Reds are confident they have the necessary depth across the wider squad and beyond to compete with the best in Super Rugby Pacific amid a COVID scare.

The squad's preparations were hampered last week after Reds GM of Rugby Sam Cordingley confirmed 11 players had tested positive and 12 were forced into isolation.

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This left them with just 11 available players, forcing the former Wallaby to be drafted into training.

Despite the "disruptive" process and the one-off appearance, Cordingley was confident the experience will have them better placed to deal with it once the season starts.

“It’s been a little bit disruptive this week having only a handful of players available for training but we’ve lived through this for two years now and have really good protocols in place,” he told media last week.

“We’re getting on with it. We think we’ll improve through this and we’ll adapt as we go.

“I’m not aware of what’s happening at every club but I’m sure there are impacts on their program like the rest of society. I’ll probably say better now than during the season and hopefully over the next few weeks, we can get a bit more clarity on the protocols that will lead us through the season.”

Club officials confirmed on Monday there are only three current positive cases in the playing group, with all expected to return negative tests in the next 24-48 hours and return to full training.

Along with this, their Wallaby contingency who were on the Spring Tour have all returned negative RAT tests and will resume full-time to the program next week.

However, the cluster is a timely reminder of the ongoing effects COVID is having on the sporting landscape, with the Big Bash forced to adopt a pool of replacement players as a result of mass postponements and ravaged squads.

With the Super Rugby Pacific season set to start on February 18, Cordingley was adamant they have the necessary levels of depth throughout the Hospital Cup to cope if they encounter similar issues.

“We’ve been in touch with our clubs just in relation to players who are fit and ready, keeping in good shape,” he said.

“Obviously we’ve got a fantastic competition in the Hospital Cup that underpins our team. We have a state-first approach in picking talent and we know the guys that are there, we have two squads worth of players that we are considering that sit underneath our contracted players.

“In terms of the protocols that need to be put in place for those guys to come into a COVID-safe environment, that’s to be determined but we’ve already started planning the contingencies around squad players dropping out.”

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As a result of COVID, the draw has been tweaked, frontload with derbies, which will see the Australian sides face off before resuming Trans-Tasman action across Super and ANZAC Round on April 22-24.

This appears to suit the Reds who found remarkable success in a similar format last year, finishing the regular season with seven from eight wins before winning the Super Rugby AU title.

Cordingley knows if they can replicate this success, they will be primed for a top-four finish, however, was well aware of the need to find further success against Kiwi opposition if they want to push for a title.

“We’re seeing it effectively as the same as last year, playing the domestic teams first,” he believes.

“We’ve got the introduction of Moana (Pasifika) and the (Fijian) Drua so we’re seeing that as a positive, we’re doing the same as last year. There have been some minor changes but we’ll adapt and get on with it.

“We want to be the best team in Australia and we want to take the next step and knock off some of the Kiwi teams.

“…We’ve had a squad that’s stuck together for the last 4-5 years and have some good cohesion amongst the group.”

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