Reds, Brumbies favoured Australian teams

The Reds are all smiles after winning the Super Rugby AU competition last Saturday night.PHOTO:...
The Reds are all smiles after winning the Super Rugby AU competition last Saturday night.PHOTO: GETTY IMAGES
The Australian teams have been buoyed by playing among themselves but the real test comes with the Super Rugby Trans-Tasman competition. Rugby writer Steve Hepburn looks at the five teams.Reds

Coach: Brad Thorn

Super Rugby AU: champions

The Reds have been building and will go into the competition with plenty of confidence after winning the Australian competition in a tight final against the Brumbies. The side has players who have come through the Queensland system and turned into handy players.

No 8 Harry Wilson is a real goer, while Angus Scott-Young is another player who will never back down.

The front row is solid and big prop Taniela Tupou can deliver a strong hand — a bruising runner, strong defender and solid scrummager. He is one man to stop for opposition defence.

Tate McDermott is a nippy and effective halfback, while outside him is James O’Connor. O’Connor has always had ability but not always the temperament. He has found it and is a class player who can mix it with the best of them.

Outside him there are some strong runners and in Jordan Petaia the Reds have a player who has the full allocation of skills.

Brad Thorn is in his fourth year with the side and brought some resilience and power to the team. It will be tested over the next five weeks.

Brumbies

Coach: Dan McKellar

Super Rugby AU: finalist

The Brumbies have always played a patterned, hard-working game where they earn tries the hard way.

But the team has some class backs and a quality inside back combination. No side ever gets an easy victory over the Brumbies as the side fights hard and never gives anything away.

It has a very solid front row, although hooker Folau Fainga’a appears to have fallen out of favour.

The locks and loose forwards are solid without getting carried away and former Crusaders Pete Samu had impressed before getting injured.

Halfback Nic White is a guy who never stops. He must be very annoying to play against, but is an asset for the side.

Fullback Tom Banks is handy and they have some good finishers out wide.

Force

Coach: Tim Sampson

Super Rugby AU: third

Surprised many to get through to the preliminary final in Australia, but could not get past the Brumbies.

It is good to have the Force back in the competition and it did well to make it to the post season.

Has dragged in some names such as Irish fullback Rob Kearney, Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani and the Argentinian inside back pair of Tomás Cubelli and Domingo Miotti will be important.

The Force have always struggled to score points. For too many years the side had a defence-first approach which did not win many games.

Former All Blacks Jeremy Thrush and Richard Kahui are still running around and found a home in Perth.

May trouble some sides and the long trip to Perth will not help visiting teams. But appears to lack the class needed to grab a win or two.

Rebels

Coach: Kevin Foote

Super Rugby AU: fourth

The Rebels underachieved over the past couple of months and coach Dave Wessels paid the price, as he walked before he was pushed.

The Rebels are a very patchy side. They did some things well but mostly too many basics were not adhered to and the side conceded easy points.

With a backline consisting of Marika Koroibete, Matt Toomua and Reece Hodge it is hard to see how the team failed to reach its potential. It lacked composure at times and lost a couple of tight games.

Kevin Foote has been promoted from assistant to the big job but there is not a lot to get excited about.

Waratahs

Coaches: Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker

Super Rugby AU: fifth

Where do you start with the woeful Waratahs? Did not win a game, finishing 15 points behind the fourth placed Rebels. Stripped of lots of talent and experience, the side went from one loss to another.

Coach Rob Penney was sacked after five games but things did not improve.

Not that anyone noticed as the side played in front of mostly empty stands as no-one follows a losing side.

Has some young talent and captain Jake Gordon is a handy halfback, although he has been injured of late. Hard to see where a win will come from.

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