Reds prepared for fired-up Force
A FRONT-ROW blow-up in Perth tonight is certain, or Reds skipper James Slipper has completely misread the incendiary make-up of long-time mate Ben Daley.
Daley's surprise selection as a Western Force starting prop is a clear ploy aimed at rattling the Reds up front in what shapes as a terrific forwards battle.
Slipper and his packmates know exactly what is in store because Daley brought his feisty style to Reds training as much as he did to his 80 Super Rugby outings for Queensland.
"Combative is a good word for Dales. He's an all-in type of player," said Slipper, who debuted beside Daley in the Wallabies front row in Perth in 2010.
"There's not as many scraps at Reds training with him gone, that's for sure. Personally, I'm pleased to see him back playing after all the injuries.
"He'll go hard, try to give it to us and I'll enjoy catching up with him after the game."
In 2014, Daley and James Horwill faced off in a headgear-grabbing, verbal spat after a clash at Reds pre-season training.
The Force have won five of the past eight games between the sides, which is a poor reflection on the Reds either being bullied up front or treating their opponents too lightly.
Coach Nick Stiles will not cop either tonight in a key local derby in which a win can begin to correct two woeful stats. The Reds were 0-6 in Aussie derby games last year and have been road kill with eight straight losses away from their cosy Suncorp Stadium home.
Stiles is tipping a sharp improvement from halfback Nick Frisby but he will have to weather torrid attention.
Stiles should know because he helped write the Force textbook on harassing Reds halfbacks when two upsets were sprung during his time in the west as forwards coach in 2011-13.
"They'll be trying to tackle Fris late, hold him down, delay his arrival to the next ruck and make him their top target to disrupt our continuity," Stiles said.
Flanker George Smith's 20m pick-and-go run and flashes of support play against the Sharks last Friday night were only hints of the influence he can have.
Stiles has shown a willingness to back his "closers" from the bench, where Taniela Tupou, Andrew Ready, Sef Fa'agase Izack Rodda and Hendrik Tui have the grunt to sustain the march of the pack.