One South African coach has questioned whether Queensland are true title contenders, but Ewen McKenzie has stressed the Reds are in great shape heading towards Super Rugby's business end.
Coaching boss McKenzie insisted the 2011 champions had the best form line in the competition and know they can seal a play-off berth by sweeping their testing two-match tour of South Africa.
Their first leg is on Sunday morning (AEST) when they meet the vastly improved, free-running Cheetahs in Bloemfontein, before travelling to Cape Town to play the Stormers - the only rival team to have conceded fewer tries than Queensland.
Despite Queensland's 32-17 win over his side last weekend in Brisbane, Sharks coach John Plumtree intimated the Reds - running third on the standings, just one point behind the Brumbies - could face a harsh reality in the Republic.
"I think they are alright but I'm not sure they are the best," he said.
"They have a tough tour coming up ... that will be a good indication.
"They're going to be faced with some pretty big packs. It's whether they can cope with them."
McKenzie admitted the Cheetahs posed a tricky first-up threat on top of a short preparation after flying into Bloemfontein on Monday.
But he said his side's form - last losing in round five against the Force before winning five and drawing two - and their depth up front put them in good position heading into their next three matches before the June internationals break.
"Every game is a barometer about how you are going but, at the moment, our form line is better than most," said McKenzie.
"A lot of people would like our form line.
"This will be a good test the next two games but, if we win the next two games, we still have to go back and beat the Rebels, and they're running close.
"It's not lost on us exactly where we are on the comp and we know that if we get the next couple of weeks right, then you can make the finals by June."
Captain James Horwill has been cleared to return from a head knock, but there are unlikely to be any other changes to the Reds starting side if fullback Jono Lance overcomes a nerve problem in his shoulder.
Lance's injury might open the door for Ben Lucas or Luke Morahan, while Wallabies centre Ben Tapuai could face another week on the bench following Chris Feauai-Sautia's strong display against the Sharks.
"He was exceptional for us," halfback Will Genia said of the young centre. "He has that X-factor and that flare to beat an opponent one-on-one and he's incredibly strong in contact."