Planet Rugby

Super Rugby preview: Reds

12th February 2013 15:12

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Digby Ioane

Always entertaining: Digby Ioane

With the new Super Rugby season looming large on the horizon we take a look at each of the 15 competitors. Next up, the Reds!

Last year: Lying in eighth position ahead of the final regular-season round, the Reds managed to jump up to third and secure a home play-off due to winning the Australian conference. Tries from Scott Higginbotham, Liam Gill, James Slipper, Dom Shipperley and Will Genia capped a strong finish to the season before they lost 17-30 to the Sharks at Suncorp Stadium. Injuries had played their part in the Reds ultimately not defending their title but despite being without James Horwill, Quade Cooper, Peter Hynes and a few others along the way, they only lost two more games in 2012 than 2011's season.

This year: The Reds will be without scrum-half Will Genia for the first five rounds but Ben Lucas is an able replacement at the base. They also have a new coach at the helm in Richard Graham, who quit the Force in order to work under Reds director of rugby Ewen McKenzie. The acquisition of the former Bath and Saracens staff member is a coup for the 2011 champions and we believe they are in with a shout of retaining the Australian conference. Their main challenger will be the ever-improving Brumbies while the 'Tahs and Rebels will also fancy their chances but may not yet have the consistency necessary to compete at the summit. The Reds begin in Canberra and then at home to the Waratahs and will not face the Crusaders or competition new-boys the Kings, but with Quade Cooper back from injury - and his boxing bout - they have a squad that can push hard for silverware. The big question is how much they will miss flanker Scott Higginbotham now that he has exiled to the Rebels? A lot rests on the shoulders of young openside flanker Liam Gill.

Players to watch: Of course fans will be keeping an eye on how Quade Cooper performs following his extended spell out of the game with an injury. He'll want a big season in his quest to win back the Wallaby fly-half jersey from Kurtley Beale - he may need to win over Australia coach Robbie Deans first though - so expect him to try his hand in attack. In the pack, the aforementioned Liam Gill is a promising player to keep an eye on while Digby Ioane is always entertaining. The wing does, however, need to eradicate his sloppy and all too regular handling mistakes. Failure to do so may cost him his Gold jersey this June.

Noteworthy signings: Jono Owen (Rebels)

Noteworthy losses: Scott Higginbotham (Rebels), Peter Hynes (released), Van Humphries (released), Sam Lane (Waratahs), Guy Shepherdson (released)

Prospects: Joint-favourites with the Brumbies to top the Australian conference in what, like last season, should be a battle until the end. The acquisition of Richard Graham to a coaching role is positive and a good combination with Ewen McKenzie could see the Reds there or there abouts in the knockout rounds. It is expected that the backline will be Genia, Cooper, Ioane, Tapuai, Faingaa, Shipperley, Morahan - with Ben Lucas, Mike Harris and Rod Davies acting as great options off the bench. Up front they're also pretty solid but one wonders whether veteran Radike Samo is capable of another full season playing at a high level at number eight. Without Scott Higginbotham, who was their second top try-scorer last term, Samo's back-up will be Jake Schatz. But without the now-Rebel we just feel they lose a lot of firepower and will fall short of topping the Australian conference behind the Brumbies.

Fixtures:

16 February: v Brumbies - Away
23 February: v Waratahs - Home
1 March: v Hurricanes - Home
8 March: v Rebels - Away
16 March: v Force - Home
23 March: v Bulls - Home
29 March: v Highlanders - Away
BYE
13 April: v Chiefs - Away
20 April: v Brumbies - Home
26 April: v Blues - Home
4 May: Force - Away
10 May: v Sharks - Home
19 May: v Cheetahs - Away
26 May: v Stormers - Away
1 June: v Rebels - Home
BYE
13 July: v Waratahs - Away

  • Super Rugby Fixtures
Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Brumbies vs ChiefsBrumbies vs Chiefs Preview
Sharks vs HighlandersSharks vs Highlanders Preview
Saturday , April 26
Hurricanes vs RedsHurricanes vs Reds Preview
Western Force vs BullsWestern Force vs Bulls Preview
Cheetahs vs StormersCheetahs vs Stormers Preview
Friday , May 2
Blues vs Reds19:35
Melbourne Rebels vs Sharks19:40
Saturday , May 3
Chiefs vs Lions19:35
Crusaders vs Brumbies16:35
Waratahs vs Hurricanes19:40
More Super Rugby fixtures
  • Super Rugby Results
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
Super Rugby
Friday , April 25
Blues 21 - 13 WaratahsBlues vs Waratahs Report
Saturday , April 19
Chiefs 17 - 18 CrusadersChiefs vs Crusaders Report
Waratahs 19 - 12 BullsWaratahs vs Bulls Report
Sharks 19 - 8 CheetahsSharks vs Cheetahs Report
Stormers 18 - 3 LionsStormers vs Lions Report
Friday , April 18
Hurricanes 39 - 20 BluesHurricanes vs Blues Report
Melbourne Rebels 22 - 16 Western Force
Saturday , April 12
Chiefs 22 - 16 Melbourne RebelsChiefs vs Melbourne Rebels Report
Western Force 28 - 16 WaratahsWestern Force vs Waratahs Report
Cheetahs 31 - 52 CrusadersCheetahs vs Crusaders Report
More Super Rugby results
  • Super Rugby Table
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Brumbies825
3Chiefs825
4Waratahs924
5Western Force823
6Crusaders822
7Hurricanes821
8Blues920
9Highlanders719
10Bulls919
11Lions916
12Reds816
13Melbourne Rebels816
14Stormers810
15Cheetahs99
Australian Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Brumbies825
2Waratahs924
3Western Force823
4Reds816
5Melbourne Rebels816
New Zealand Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Chiefs825
2Crusaders822
3Hurricanes821
4Blues920
5Highlanders615
South African Conference
Super Rugby Table
PosTeamPPts
1Sharks831
2Bulls919
3Lions916
4Stormers810
5Cheetahs99