RUGBY: Queensland Reds skipper James Slipper says his team must start strongly if it is to stand any chance of upsetting the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium tomorrow night.
The Reds have won just three matches this season, while the visitors sit on top of the New Zealand Conference and are one of the favourites to win the Super Rugby competition when the playoffs get under way in two weeks.
Slipper said he was in no doubt the Reds would have a tough game against the Chiefs and added: “I think if we’re going to be a chance tomorrow and play a good game, we want to come out and start well, put the points on the board and put the Chiefs under pressure.
“That’s when we play our best rugby – when we’re not playing catch-up rugby, we get out in front and keep moving forward.”
The Reds will hand Kane Douglas his first start since his return from a knee injury suffered in the first half of the World Cup final last year.
Douglas was good off the bench against the Brumbies last week and earned his start.
Taniela Tupou, known as the “Tongan Thor”, was also impressive on his debut against the Brumbies after coming on as a second-half replacement.
Slipper said the 20-year-old could cause some problems in the final 20 minutes, a time that traditionally this campaign has been poor for the Reds.
“Most of us at the Reds don’t really enjoy tackling him,” Slipper told reporters.
“He is a big boy, very powerful – probably quicker than most of our backs, at 130 kilos. That sort of physicality, he’ll bring naturally.
“I don’t think we need to hype him up too much. He just needs to be confident and comfortable out there.
“His natural instincts will take over and he’ll play a good game.”
The Chiefs have rested lock Brodie Retallick, and will start All Blacks teammate Sam Cane at No.8 for the first time in his career.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.