RUGBY: The Queensland Reds are quietly confident they can use the end of the Super Rugby season as a springboard towards success in 2017.
The Reds showed some promising signs in their 43-24 loss to Australian conference leaders the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday, and will be keen to take it up to the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium this Friday night in the penultimate round.
Jack Tuttle and Taniela Tupou made their Super Rugby debuts against the ACT, Kane Douglas won a first Reds cap and Lukhan Tui earned his maiden start.
All showed good signs, with the “Tongan Thor” Tupou making some powerful runs on his way to scoring a try in the dying seconds.
“I’m really excited about the pack moving forward with some good, big ball-runners, some world-class experience and young guys (such as Tupou and Tui) putting their hands up,” Reds co-coach Nick Stiles said.
Debutant fullback Tuttle, despite playing no higher than Premier Grade with Norths, was also not out of his depth in Super Rugby.
Reserve back Duncan Paia’aua, meanwhile, had flashes of brilliance, particularly with his passing game, after replacing injured five-eighth Jake McIntyre at half-time.
The 21-year-old is now set to start his first game of the year against the New Zealand conference leaders in Brisbane.
“He is a brilliant distributor at 10 or 12 – one of the better ones out of all the Australian sides,” Reds co-coach Matt O’Connor said of Paia’aua, who crossed for a try against the ACT.
“We’ll be looking to develop how well he creates space. With another 20 or so games under his belt he’ll be a real threat with the ball in hand.”
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