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Reds bypass ARU's national academy


Jim Morton

The Queensland Reds will bypass the Australian Rugby Union's national academy feeder system next year by offering more "Beau Robinson fairytale" opportunities through their own back-up program.

The Reds will next week unveil their Reds College, containing 11 players they've invited to follow in the footsteps of Robinson, when they officially start pre-season training.

The cult-hero former NSW flanker left Sydney two years ago to be an unpaid Queensland squad-member and part-time Ipswich barman before starring in their 2011 Super Rugby title charge.

With the Reds calling on 36 players in both 2011 and 2012, coach Ewen McKenzie believes it's inevitable he'll need to look outside his contracted squad of 30 plus five rookies.

McKenzie borrowed heavily on the Reds Academy in 2010 and 2011 but it was dissolved with the establishment of the ARU's centralised national academy, set up as a development tool and young talent pool for all five Australian franchises to call on in times of trouble.

He now wants a strong core of more seasoned back-ups who are battle-hardened and better prepared to train with them so they can slot into his style of play at a moment's notice.

"There's no time to ease new players in - they have to be ready to play for us tomorrow," McKenzie said. "We need to drop them in there and expect them to be comfortable.

"You can't just chuck a 19-year-old forward into Super Rugby."

McKenzie likened the Reds' unique 2013 draw - with all but one of their fixtures played before June 3 - to the old "Super 12 sprint" and also said it was imperative they started strongly.

"If you want to have an influence on the competition you have to go hard from the beginning," he said.

McKenzie admitted the Reds learned from this season's injury crisis that conscripted reinforcements, from both the national academy and club ranks, were not up to speed with their structure due to lack of training exposure.

Among the college group are a host of top club players hoping to get their professional break.

"Beau Robinson did the same thing," McKenzie said.

Meantime, former Brumbies and Melbourne Rebels prop Jono Owen has gained the last contract in the Reds 30-man squad as a replacement for retired tight-head Guy Shepherdson.


Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
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