The St.George Queensland Reds are back training at Ballymore today, following their three-week tour of Melbourne and South Africa.
Arriving in Brisbane Monday night, the players were given Tuesday off before beginning preparations for an important ANZAC Round clash against the Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday.
Reds head coach Richard Graham praised the team for the strides made while together on the road.
“It was a good tour, one of the best South African trips I have been involved with,” he said.
“The group spent a lot of time together, they trained well and I believe a number of aspects of our game have improved. We have been chasing consistency and small improvements each week will help us deliver that.
“To finish with five points from the tour is a pretty good outcome. Both the Bulls and Cheetahs have very good home records. We were only the second Australian team since 2011 to beat the Cheetahs at home.”
As well as the team’s performances, Graham was particularly pleased with the development of Queensland’s makeshift flyhalf, Nick Frisby, who has been asked to fill the shoes of injured Wallabies and Reds playmaker Quade Cooper.
“I have been impressed with Nick Frisby’s development at Number 10. When I planned selection early in the season, the expectation was Quade would play 12 – 16 games and James (O’Connor), Karmichael (Hunt) and Duncan (Paia’aua) would provide good cover where needed. All three have had disrupted seasons. Even Jake McIntyre has only just returned to Rugby following a knee operation after leading Brisbane City to the NRC title in 2014. So in fairness to Nick he was thrown in the deep end but he has handled it very well.”
After 19 days on the road, Graham said the team was happy to be back at Ballymore and preparing for a match in front of the “Queensland faithful”.
“It a great to be home in familiar surroundings amongst family, friends and the rest of the Reds squad and staff. It in itself provides a new energy,” he said.
“After a day’s rest the boys are back preparing today for another big game this weekend against the Hurricanes. As our only Sunday afternoon fixture for the season, all things point to a huge day out for families and Rugby supporters. We addressed it post Cheetahs and the players are really looking forward to playing at Suncorp in front of our own supporters.”
The Reds spent a week of pre-season training at Brisbane’s Enogerra Barracks working with 7th Brigade and Graham said the side was looking forward to honouring the Australian Defence Force in their ANZAC Round match against the Hurricanes.
“Whilst this game is extremely important in the context of our season, the round has added significance as we commemorate ANZAC Day. After a pre-season camp and continued development initiatives, we have built a very good relationship with the soldiers from Gallipoli Barracks. We will be representing them and all the other service men and women who fought the first major military action by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War and subsequent to that.
“At this time I am always asked about the similarities between us and the armed forces. I believe strongly that Rugby and the forces share some very common traits. Most commonly team work, mateship, work ethic and discipline. However it is hard to extend that much further. We have never been asked to put our lives at risk and it would be disrespectful to the men and women to suggest what we do is at all similar.”
The Reds play the Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium this Sunday, 26 April. The Reds’ match jerseys, featuring the Rising Sun emblem of the Australian Defence Force, will be auctioned following the game to raise money for the Mates4Mates charity.
The match kicks off at 4:05pm and we are asking fans to be in their seats at 3.40pm so they don’t miss the commemorative ceremonies.
[Credit: YouTube – queenslandreds]