The desire for Test spots or to leave Queensland on a good note is set to fire the underdog Reds in Saturday’s Super Rugby clash with in-form rivals NSW.
A combination of players auditioning and others making their curtain call have Queensland eyeing an upset over high flying Super Rugby rivals NSW on Saturday.
The Waratahs have already locked up top spot going into the clash in Brisbane, while the Reds will struggle to improve on 12th after losing ten of 15 games.
While the Waratahs and either the Force or Brumbies will contest the finals, the game represents the final high level opportunity for any Reds Test aspirants to push their claims before the Rugby Championship starts next month.
“There’s a lot of individual battles out there and I would like to think that’s part of the motivation for putting out a good performance this weekend,” Reds coach Richard Graham said.
The match will mark the final appearance of several players who are leaving the Brisbane-based franchise.
Backs Aidan Toua, Rod Davies, Dom Shipperley and Mike Harris, are all going, along with front rowers Albert Anae and Jono Owen.
“There probably hasn’t been this many guys leave in one hit for a long time here in Queensland, so it’s a big moment,” Reds captain James Horwill said.
Graham thought there was a genuine desire among the departing players to perform well in their swansong game.
“I think as a show of goodwill, a show of mateship, as a show of unity and teamsmanship. I think it’s important that they finish the season really strongly,” Graham said.
He expected the Waratahs to play at full intensity and field their strongest available side in an attempt to maintain momentum heading into the finals.
“They’ve got a guaranteed week off, you rest players now, you lose a bit of momentum,” Graham said.
Horwill was adamant the Reds could beat the Waratahs, who have won six games in a row – more than Queensland have all season.
“I wouldn’t turn up otherwise, ” Horwill said.
“It’s a big game for us to focus on us.
“We’re not too worried about what the Waratahs are going to be doing.”
The Reds will be without Nick Frisby for the match, the halfback suffering a broken jaw in his side’s loss to the Western Force.
Frisby will be out for six weeks after copping a knock to the jaw early in the second half during Saturday’s game in Perth.