Tim Horan: How the Waratahs helped Queensland Reds make the Super Rugby final

Thank you, Waratahs.

That’s the message to everyone in NSW from rugby supporters in Queensland.

NSW belted the Reds when they played them at the Sydney Cricket Ground last month, but they were really doing them a favour and that’s one of the reasons Queensland are playing in this weekend’s Super Rugby AU final.

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The Reds are set to face the might of the Brumbies on Saturday night.Source:Getty Images


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In any competition you do need a reality check and that was the wake up call they needed.

I know the Reds would never use this as an excuse but they were all deeply affected by the passing of Jordan Petaia’s father that week, but what the loss to the Waratahs reminded them was that you’ve got to be able to compartmentalise things in sport.

As hard as that is sometimes you’ve got to be able to put certain things away and that was the big lesson from the Waratahs.

That massive defeat was clearly the turning point for the Reds because the whole mindset of the team has changed. They haven’t lost since and have only given up 28 points in their last four games, but it’s important to remember that all those matches have been at home.

The last time they had to travel for a game was against the Waratahs and they didn’t cope well, so that’s the challenge they face against the Brumbies this weekend, but they can’t use that as an excuse.

Every team that has had to fly in and out on the same day has struggled this season, so the Reds need to mentally prepare for that and not treat it as an obstacle.

James Connor will have to play a big role if the Reds are to win.Source:Getty Images

That’s going to be difficult! So what strategies have Brad Thorn and his coaching staff got in place to make the flight to and from Canberra as smooth as possible?

Winning in Canberra has always been hard, but that’s no excuse either.

Back in my day, they had players like Stirling Mortlock, Joe Roff, Stephen Larkham and George Gregan, so I didn’t win many down there and that was when we stayed overnight.

The Reds don’t have that luxury this weekend, so they’ll be thinking to themselves that they just want to get in there and play the game and get out, but they need to flip that around.

The way they need to be approaching this trip is that they love going to Canberra and they love playing on that field because you can bet that’s how the Brumbies will be feeling.

This Brumbies team has a very similar pattern of play to the Brumbies teams from 10, 15, even 25 years ago. They rely on quick, ruck ball and a very high paced game.

The Tahs turned on the style to demolish the Reds back in August.Source:Getty Images

It’s crucial for the Reds to get off to a good start because if the Brumbies get on top in the first 20 minutes, they‘re a very hard team to stop but if you’re on top of them, they struggle to get into their pattern and the flow of the game.

The Reds came very close to winning last time they went down there but they have to be very careful not to read too much into that because if they think it’s going to be a similar score or a similar game, they could be in for a rude shock.

Dan McKellar is one of the best coaches in Australian rugby at the moment and I reckon he kept a fair bit up his sleeve when they played the Reds a couple of weeks ago.

Originally published asThanks NSW, you did Queensland a huge favour

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