Jim Morton April 03, 2012
Injury-wracked and desperate, the Queensland Reds reckon there's no place like home as they aim to put their Super Rugby title defence back on track with a Good Friday victory over the ACT Brumbies.
The Reds have the comfort of knowing they've won 16 of their past 17 matches at Suncorp Stadium as they seek to end their worst streak in three years after leaking 133 points on a horror three-match road trip.
And skipper James Horwill says they will have extra motivation as they attempt to atone for the one loss blotting their remarkable home record - a 22-14 upset by the Brumbies last June.
Horwill denied pressure from their slump would affect the Reds as they would enjoy their return to Suncorp against the Canberra-based side who now lead the Australian conference.
''Suncorp is a place we love to play rugby,'' said Horwill. ''The Brumbies are the only team to have beaten us at home last year.
''They ruined our [12-match] winning streak at home so that will give us a little bit of extra motivation.
''We want to perform in front of our home fans because of how loyal and committed they are to us.''
The cavalry is still at least another match away for Queensland with injured trio Mike Harris, Ben Lucas and Anthony Faingaa on track to be included in a severely-depleted backline against the Cape Town Stormers on April 20. The Reds have sorely missed Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper, who won't return until next month, but the losses of Harris and Lucas, as well as another goalkicking ball-player in Jono Lance, have left them relying on fifth-string Dallan Murphy.
Coach Ewen McKenzie indicated yesterday that he's reluctant to tinker too much with his combinations but does have the option of moving Will Genia to flyhalf or promoting youngster Sam Lane for a debut at No.10.
Horwill insisted there was no lack of commitment within the Reds camp but admitted they failed to fire at the start of the 45-19 loss to the Western Force in Perth on Saturday night.
''You can't be happy with a performance like that and in the end it's up to us,'' he said. ''We want to play to the ability that we know we can.
''We showed last year the ability that this team has got and at the moment we're not playing to that ability.
''You can't discredit the guys in attitude and commitment to what they're doing.''
■ AUSTRALIA'S Super Rugby teams are paying the price for the Wallabies' northern tour late last year, according to two-time World Cup winner and former Wallabies selector Tim Horan.
After six rounds of Super Rugby, the sixth-placed Brumbies are the only Australian (3-2) team to have a positive record as the South African and New Zealand franchises have started far better.
Whereas the All Blacks and Springboks went on holiday and freshened up immediately after their World Cup campaigns ended in October, the Wallabies had to stay up for the two-match tour and couldn't sign off until after an impressive 24-18 win over Wales in Cardiff on December 3.
Horan said only NSW Waratahs utility back Adam Ashley-Cooper and Western Force skipper David Pocock were currently displaying good form of the players who toured Wales.
''You shouldn't have an end-of-season tour after a World Cup but due to the ARU's financial constraints the Wallabies had to tour and play for an extra one-and-a-half months,'' Horan said.
''If it was more about the welfare of players that wouldn't have happened.
''They should have been given 10-12 weeks off.
''Every four years you need to have a big gap.'' AAP