Sacked Stiles’ awkward date with Reds

NICK Stiles has a surprise new job drilling the Melbourne Rebels forwards for a vital Super Rugby opener against the Queensland Reds who sacked him.

The temptation to throw around the word "turncoat" just doesn't fit when it was the Reds who dumped Stiles four months ago when he wanted to be head coach for a decade.

It is still hard not to the raise the eyebrows when, by chance, his new team meet his old one first-up in Melbourne on February 23.

 

There is no one more passionate about Queensland rugby than Stiles when you consider his 96-game run as a Reds prop and four diligent years in coaching roles at Ballymore.

He was also an out-of-work coach, as of last October, when the Reds preferred Brad Thorn so snapping up an offer to do some sessions for new Rebels coach Dave Wessels made sense.

"Stilesy and I worked together at the Western Force (in 2013) and, from a technical point of view, he's one of the best around as a coach of scrums and lineouts," Wessels said.

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"He was happy to get involved as eyes from outside along with the visits from Gaelic football, a performance psychologist, (NSW Country coach) Darren Coleman and so on."

By coincidence, the Reds and Rebels will meet in pool play on Friday (6.36pm) when the 12-team Brisbane Global Rugby Tens light up Suncorp Stadium.

Stiles said there was nothing out of order with his part-time link at the Rebels when the Reds were so imminent on the radar.

Rookie coach Brad Thorn took the reigns from Stiles at Ballymore. Picture: Annette Dew
Rookie coach Brad Thorn took the reigns from Stiles at Ballymore. Picture: Annette Dew

"I've helped with some lineout and scrum work at the Rebels so it's not as if I'm providing particulars on the Reds or would," Stiles said.

"I haven't a clue what changes the Reds have made since I was there.

"It's coaching and I'm a coach."

Halfback Will Genia's debut for the Rebels on Friday makes the clash against the Reds a highlight of the day-night opening to the festive Tens tournament.

The Reds made it to the quarter-finals last year but face stiff competition from the Rebels, the Auckland-based Blues and Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights in Pool A.

Rebels coach Dave Wessels.
Rebels coach Dave Wessels.

Former Wallabies coach Robbie Deans assembled the Wild Knights in Brisbane on Monday with Berrick Barnes, Digby Ioane and a host of Japanese Test players as his trumps.

Deans is one of the most upbeat proponents of Tens because it is so fresh and jumps out of the "Groundhog Day-ish" rugby calendar with a fast, fun and competitive format.

Tweaking the tournament to run as a day-night spectacle to beat the heat has a tick from players and fans with Friday's final 20-minute game starting at 9.30pm.



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