Reds to launch finals Crusade
It's the toughest road trip in Super Rugby but Reds coach Ewen McKenzie says the Reds will enter next Saturday's qualifying final against the Crusaders in Christchurch quietly confident.
Indeed Queensland have won three-of-four clashes with the Crusaders under McKenzie, however their only loss came in Christchurch last year as they went down 16-11 in Round 11.
"We've probably had as good a record as anyone against them in recent times but they're pretty hard to beat there at home so it makes for a really interesting challenge for us," McKenzie said after Saturday's 14-12 win over the Waratahs in Sydney.
"But we've been able to find a way in the past so we'll go there with some confidence."
Stand-in skipper James Slipper added after the Reds secured fifth spot with their narrow win over arch rivals NSW: "You've got to back yourself, especially at this time of the year.
"Yes our record (against the Crusaders) does speak for itself. It's always a tough game though.
"It's always a tight game and it's a healthy history, so it's going to be a tough match and I've actually never beaten them over there so it's going to be something I'm motivated for."
McKenzie conceded it wasn't his side's best performance against Waratahs but says his men will still take momentum into the Crusaders clash.
"In the end we won the game, there was some torrid stuff out there. I'm sure both teams would have loved more attractive and clinical efforts on both sides," he said.
"I think the intent was there but it didn't quite transpire as the game went on. The ball got a little bit slippery and there were errors but there were some good bits and pieces in amongst it.
"It's better to go into the finals with a win than a loss, so that sort of momentum's good.
"We came to the game today and I don't think many people tipped us to win, the bookmakers certainly didn't, so we're pleased to come out with the win."
Reds winger Rod Davies won't be available next weekend after suffering a serious knee injury against the Waratahs while utility Mike Harris is also in severe doubt with a hamstring problem.
"I'm not quite sure exactly what it is but you're looking at a three to four month (layoff) minimum I'd say," he said of Davies.
"It looks like possibly a grade one hamstring (strain for Harris) if you're going to define it.
"I don't think it's bad but whether he'll be able to play next week is probably doubtful."
Meanwhile, the incoming Wallabies coach played down the significance of All Blacks captain Richie McCaw's possible return from a seven-month break next weekend.
"I don't know, he might be on the bench maybe," he said.
"There's a bunch of guys there that have been plugging away and doing the work to get them to where they are on the ladder, so I'm not sure they need to rush anything there but maybe he might appear as an impact player.