Championship or bust.
According to Queensland legend Tim Horan, that’s the simple equation for the Reds in 2021 as they prepare to kick off their AU Super Rugby campaign against the Waratahs on Friday night.
Horan told Wide World of Sports that defending champion Brumbies deserves to be seen as a slight favorite ahead of the Reds, but the only way Brad Thorn’s side can see the season as a success is to hold on to. silverware in the air at the end.
“You still think the Brumbies are the team to beat because what Dan McKellar has had there for the past two years, they have a very solid foundation to build on,” said Horan, who will call the action for Nine and Stan. Sport.
“But I think the Reds this year, they took a good step last year, they came very close to winning this final, but I think this year you really have to give up.
“This is the year. And not just in AU Super Rugby but also in the trans-Tasman competition. I don’t think they will come in as favorites but they won’t be far behind the Brumbies.”
While the Brumbies are also among bookmaker favorites, many pundits are tipping the Reds to continue their upward trajectory and bring some rugby glory back to Suncorp Stadium.
Horan didn’t think outside pressure and expectations would be a burden on a Red team that has grown together.
“I think they’ve handled it pretty well the last few years,” Horan said.
Rugby explained in 60 seconds
“The domestic competition really appealed to the Queensland Reds last year because they were winning more games which boosted the confidence of a younger group. They are still a young team but they are very experienced now.
“I know Brad doesn’t like to use the young tag but you look at Tate McDermott, a few players and this sophomore syndrome – you have to get something moving. Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight – those two players, super first years and now in the second year can you save it and go up a few notches?
“I think both players can do it. So it’s important, Hunter Paisami is going to be a lot better in his second year, I think he will have to adapt his game a bit as well.”
Horan was also expecting big things from Reds’ prop Taniela Tupou, who will be relieved from the bench in the first round against the Waratahs.
“He’s come a long way in the past year and he’s going to be someone the kids can admire and idolize,” Horan said.
“That’s what the sport needs now. Because there’s always a big exodus after the World Cups – you lose your Will Genias, your Quade Coopers, your Bernard Foleys, your Samu Kerevis. We’ve had a Massive exodus of players that the children knew and of course not Michael Hooper in Super Rugby. So this year is an opportunity for the players to stand out. “
For a daily dose of the best of the latest news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter in Click here!