Back in 2011, the Reds truly deserved to take home the title, but then they stuttered their way through the 2012 season, only to be humiliated by the Sharks in the play-offs.
Injuries played a big part in their struggle last year – as it often does with Australian sides – and let’s face it, they are just too thinly spread to have real depth to cover for key players. Fortunately, at this stage only Will Genia will miss the start of the season after having had knee surgery, he is expected to return in Round 6.
In the meanwhile odds are that Ben Lucas, who really impressed during the Reds’ trial match against the Blues, will partner an almost back-to-form Quade Cooper, who had a mix of really good and really bad moments last season. Cooper will need to smooth out the wrinkles very quickly if the Reds have any hope of getting back the spark in their backline.
Correct me if I’m wrong (I couldn’t watch the trial match between the Reds and Blues), but the results steer me into thinking that it was a very much forward-dominated performance by the Reds – which I suppose is good news for them after the departure of Scott Higginbotham. They luckily have some depth to cover around the fringes and Adam Wallace-Harrison shone in the absence of James Horwill, whom all must be happy to welcome back as skipper, although he didn’t play in their first trial match.
The Blues managed to score five tries and Queensland’s defense looked a bit weak when the ball was spread to the opposition’s flyers out wide. Their goal kicking is another worrisome area, only converting three of their seven tries isn’t promising at all. Both of these aspects don’t bode well for them in this tough competition and the Reds will really need to work hard to straighten themselves out.
I suspect that the Reds will be able to stand their ground against the lower ranked teams; however, I don’t think they’ll be able to prevail when put face-to-face with the best of the best.
My prediction for the Reds is 8th place overall and second in the Australian conference, I doubt they’ll receive the same favours as last year and this time around, they will just miss the play-offs.
by Jackie Smit