Reds’ forward-thinking plan to buck Brumbies
REDS assistant Peter Ryan has delivered a cheeky personal attack at Brumbies coach Dan McKellar, while warning the Australian conference leaders to expect another forward ambush.
Ryan is adamant the Reds can make a final statement to take their record beyond the six wins of last year when they play in chilly Canberra on Saturday night.
"They came up here with the mindset they'd steamroll us with their maul and scrum and it didn't eventuate," Ryan said of the Reds beating the Brumbies 36-14 in March.
"I'm sure the Brumbies still have a point to prove against us.
"Their coach, Dan McKellar, is a former prop and not the prettiest of individuals and we know it's all about the scrum, maul and lineout for him.
"They are chasing six wins in a row to take momentum into the finals so we know how motivated they'll be."
Ryan is always happy to throw the niggle around, especially against his old club because he won a Super 12 title with the Brumbies in 2001.
Ryan said 41 of the 59 tries scored by the Brumbies this season were triggered off lineouts and scrums, including 16 directly through rolling mauls.
"A lot of teams (falter) playing them at the set piece, which is their big ticket, so we also have to be the smart team that takes them away from that at times," Ryan said.
When the teams met in March, the Brumbies bungled their first 5m lineout when a lift was missed on Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda stole another early lineout and the pack was outmuscled.
"The Brumbies have been the form team in the Australian Conference so it's a tough ask to knock them off but it's doable," Ryan said.
Flanker Liam Wright will start his 16th game for the Reds this season, an ironman effort because he's played all but nine of the Reds' 1200 on-field minutes this season.
His 205 tackles and 13 forced turnovers show how his mark is rising.
There are some absorbing duels in store.
Rodda and Arnold are the two form locks in Australian rugby while Wright and Tom Cusack are two of the most underrated flankers.
In the engine room, Taniela Tupou will like scrum against both Scott Sio, in his 100th game, and former Reds skipper James Slipper.
Backrower Caleb Timu has been recalled to the bench and gets the chance to sign off the right way.
It's a shame his best has only been seen in glimpses in his 20 games.
Some bulldozing ball-carries would be the ideal way to remember him before he takes up his contract with French club Montpellier.
Equally, it's a farewell night for replacement trio Duncan Paia'aua, Scott Higginbotham and Sefa Naivalu before they take up deals in France.
On Saturday at Ballymore, former Reds Rod Davies and Andrew Ready will play for the Western Force when they meet Kagifa Samoa in a Global Rabid Rugby match at 2pm.
Former Sunnybank halfback Issak Fines is having a standout season for the Force.
REDS: Bryce Hegarty, Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi (c), Filipo Daugunu, Matt McGahan, Scott Malolua, Angus Scott-Young, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, JP Smith. RESERVES: Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Ruan Smith, Gav Luka, Caleb Timu, Scott Higginbotham, Moses Sorovi, Duncan Paia'aua, Sefa Naivalu