Reds' ability to adapt to pressure
RUGBY UNION: The underdog tag may sit nicely with the Queensland Reds, but captain James Horwill believes they have well and truly ditched another tag – one trick pony.
The Reds won the minor premiership and are hosting the Super Rugby final, yet it’s the travel-weary Crusaders ($1.60) who will go into Saturday night’s Suncorp Stadium showdown as bookies’ favourites ahead of Queensland ($2.30).
Horwill didn’t sound surprised by that.
“The fact that they have won seven titles before, probably lets them have that space,” said Horwill on Tuesday.
“But that is fine. We don’t pay much attention to that sort of stuff.
“We know they have ‘been there, done that’. They are seasoned at that level and they have Test players throughout the side.
“It is a two-horse race on Saturday and we have to play our best game of the year to win. But I think they will be thinking the same thing.”
One man has become synonymous with the Reds’ success – playmaker Quade Cooper.
But Horwill said their stunning 2011 Super Rugby run to the finals had proved they were an adaptable and versatile outfit who couldn’t be accused of being a one-man band.
“One of our greatest assets has been able to change the way we play. We are not one trick ponies,” Horwill said.
“We can adapt to the game, the opposition and the conditions.
“It is something we are pretty proud of.
“We have the belief that no matter what situation we find ourselves in we can get out of it.”
Of course Cooper is a major influence and Horwill believed the No.10 would be just as important off the field as the Reds braced for one of the biggest games in their history.
Especially to the likes of uncontracted youngster Jono Lance, 21, who faces the daunting task of shutting down Crusaders superstar Sonny Bill Williams on Saturday night.
“The guys around him (Lance) are quite good like Quade ... they are pretty laidback blokes, that helps him not stressing out too much,” Horwill said.
“You will struggle to find a more laidback bloke than Quade.
“He doesn’t get too stressed about anything no matter what the game is.
“But this is a big game. It is definitely more than just another Super Rugby match.
“It is probably the biggest game for Queensland that I have ever been a part of.
“If this isn’t close to a Test match I don’t know what is.”
Saturday night’s Super Rugby final is set to break Australia’s 104-year-old provincial attendance record after all general sale seats were snapped up within 45 minutes on Tuesday morning.