Vodacom Super 14

Stormers under no illusions

2010-04-20 22:55
Will Genia (Gallo Images)
Stephen Nell

Cape Town – The Stormers would have been forgiven had their sights been on at least four relatively easy log points from their tour match against the Reds prior to the start of this year’s Super 14.

However, there are no illusions anymore about the magnitude of the challenge of facing the Reds in Brisbane.

The Australian side is the surprise package in this year’s Super 14 and upset the Bulls last week. They have been playing a delightful brand of rugby.

Former Wallaby lock Rod McCall, who celebrated his 100th game for the Queensland Reds with a 30-16 victory over Transvaal in the Super 10 final at Ellis Park in 1995, is the chairman of the Queensland Rugby Union these days.

He has held the position since September 2009 and is working behind the scenes to restore the Reds to their former glory.

“One of the reasons I wanted to get involved was because the Reds brand had been eroded over the last decade or so,” he said.

“The arrival of the Brumbies in 1996 had a big impact on us because many of our second-stringers left. Once guys like Tim Horan and John Eales retired, we had a problem. The same thing happened in 2005 when the Western Force arrived and a number of our players joined up with them,” said McCall.

Not even former Wallaby coach Eddie Jones, who won the Super 12 title with the Brumbies, could find answers for the struggling Reds in 2007. Phil Mooney had two years with the side after that without significant success.

“I had my doubts about the structures at the Reds. We were lucky that Ewen McKenzie was available as coach. He deserves the kudos. He’s very astute,” said McCall.

“Ewen is very tough on his young squad and they are responding. He was the right bloke at the right time and the team is willing to be led. He has undoubtedly had the best strategies going into games.”

The Reds’ halfback pairing of Will Genia and Quade Cooper is an important component in their revival and they got the better of the Bulls’ Springbok combination of Fourie du Preez and Morné Steyn last week.

With the inclusion of the Melbourne Rebels in next year’s expanded Super 15, the question is whether the Reds’ depth won’t be eroded again. It has already been reported that Cooper is on the Rebels’ shopping list.

However, McCall is confident that the Reds will offer their brilliant fly-half a good rugby home.

“Quade’s contract is expiring at the end of the season and the way he’s playing he will be getting more than one offer. We invested a lot of time and effort into him and will make a really good offer,” said McCall.

“Hopefully he sees the benefit of continuing to play with Will Genia. I’d also like to think we’re not a one-person team.”

McCall describes Genia as the “real deal” at scrumhalf.

“He has a complete range of skills and gives Quade an extra yard or two. Will was on our bench 14 months ago, but has had a big 12 months and is now among the best scrumhalves in the world.”

Read more on:    reds  |  stormers  |  super 14  |  rugby

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