Reds need to rework style to return to top of Australian rugby pile
- From: The Courier-Mail
- July 23, 2013
FALLING from their top dog status as Australia's leading provincial side is the wake-up call that the Reds need a tweak of playing style to evolve in 2014.
Reaching the Super Rugby finals for a third straight year is a worthy achievement but the decay in results against other Australian sides this season tells a fuller story.
The Reds stormed through seven of their eight local derbys last season yet won just four, drew two and lost two this season as the ACT Brumbies took the mantle as leading Aussie side.
That the Brumbies bullied the tryless Reds in the physical battle for their 24-6 win in the opening round proved somewhat prophetic.
It was the same shortcoming in the collision zone that scuttled the Reds in Saturday's play-off crash to the Crusaders when the Reds vaunted attack was kept tryless again.
A Reds review, involving 2014 coach Richard Graham and the departing Ewen McKenzie, will produce a blueprint of improvements needed.
The need to fast track some bigger backs for attacking options outside Will Genia and Quade Cooper is essential.
Powerful 105kg centre Samu Kerevi, 19, has been signed to the Reds' extended squad for 2014 for just that project.
He has been a seven-try star for his club GPS with his raw, exciting Fijian running game.
A 10-win season for 2013 produced highs but also areas to improve on.
The 31-23 upset of the champion Chiefs in Hamilton in Round 9 was everything the Reds strived for and reached too rarely in 2013. Genia and Cooper ran the show, the high workrate backrow fleeced turnovers, skipper James Horwill was all power from his opening run and it was worth a four-try bonus point.
The lame, tryless 19-12 tumble to the lowly Western Force at Suncorp Stadium in Round 5 was a stinker.
1 Liam Gill, 2 Will Genia, 3 James Slipper.
ON THE RISE
Nick Frisby, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Albert Anae, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz, James Slipper.
FAR MORE EXPECTED IN 2014
Ben Daley, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Ben Tapuai, Jono Owen.
A 7-out-of-10 season for Cooper who was down on linebreak assists (8) and try assists (6) but showed vastly improved defence by not figuring in Super Rugby's top 20 for missed tackles.
After a fine opening month, centre Ben Tapuai's mid-season fadeout cost him his Wallabies spot.
LOST IN REHAB
Injury-plagued back Aidan Toua played just two hours of rugby for the Reds. Five games in three seasons is diabolical output from a talented player.
The 11-man rolling maul, with backs joining in, that shocked the Chiefs with a Schatz try.
BEST MILESTONE MAN QUOTE
Prop Greg Holmes (106 games) on his tattoos: "Zero ... they are no good on chubby, white blokes."
The 95m classic against the Sharks in Round 13 that featured a bullocking Feauai-Sautia and a masterful Will Genia, who stabbed a grubber into Rod Davies' arms.
Winger Luke Morahan's brilliant kick-and-regather try to stun the British and Irish Lions.
A 50,136-fan blockbuster on Reds-Lions night at Suncorp Stadium.
Davies (5), Schatz (4).
Digby Ioane (Stade Francais, France), Radike Samo (Kintetsu Liners, Japan), Morahan (Western Force), Jono Lance (NSW Waratahs).
Centre, fullback, backrow.
CAN IT BE FIXED?
Big expectation falls on the squad's youngest back, Feauai-Sautia, to terrorise from outside centre in 2014. The Reds desperately need to find more thrust from big ballrunners with Ioane leaving.
The same goes for the backrow. Ed Quirk scored a smashing 35m try through four NSW defenders in round 2 and that running venom rarely surfaced again. It's getting the balance right for Quirk because only four players in Super Rugby made more than his 214 tackles, according to Rugbystats.com.au.
More thrust from fullback is needed but any No. 15 has to be a tackler too in the frontline when Cooper is in the backfield.