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Reds to keep Brumbies guessing on team

Jake White was wrong – Ewen McKenzie wasn't foxing when he said James Horwill and Ant Faingaa would be missing from the Reds' Super Rugby opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday.

The rest of the squad? That's a different story. The Queensland head coach and part-time international man of mystery will keep the Brumbies guessing until the last possible moment, naming a squad but no starting team for the match at Canberra Stadium.

Horwill and Ant Faingaa were missing but there 23 players have been named, meaning the Brumbies are no closer to finding out who they will line up against to start the season.

McKenzie said the Brumbies may not know what is going on but he does and so has his squad, which has known the likely composition of the final side since Monday. He saw no benefit in letting the cat of the bag earlier than the mandatory 24-hour mark before the game.

"The players know what's going on. I don't think there's any rush to let the Brumbies know what we're going to do. We'll vary our approach in that area. It suits us at the moment so that's what we're going to do," McKenzie said.

"We know what we're doing. It won't confuse us. We know their team pretty well. They've been running the same combo for some time. They've been pretty open about it. We'll do the opposite.

"I don't see any tactical advantage in letting the Brumbies know what we're going to do until the last possible moment."

McKenzie has never been a betting man but just like last year, when the then defending champions were listed as outsiders against the Waratahs, he fails to see eye-to-eye with bookmakers.

Queensland have been installed as underdogs despite beating the Brumbies twice in Canberra in their past two trips. McKenzie is miffed.

"We don't like being underdogs. I don't think we've done anything to deserve underdog status in this game. I understand we're playing away and people put value on that. That's fine. Given we've won the past two times there, it seems odd," he said.

The Brumbies missed out on the finals last year while the Reds progressed before being tipped out by the Sharks. That has been a source of motivation for the Brumbies under White but McKenzie says the Canberrans know the Reds have had the edge of late.

"It's hard to win in Canberra at the best of times and we've won two in a row so we're hoping to extend that. And they know that, they know we've won down there," McKenzie said.

"Deep down, they can talk all they like about their pre-season, preparation, revenge, things like that. But they also know we've been down there and won and also beat them up here as well. And we beat them in the trials. The bookmakers don't rate us but we'll be backing ourselves."

Former Brumbies player Adam Wallace-Harrison said the Reds had great respect for the Brumbies but weren't planning on returning with a defeat on the first-up record.

"A lot has been said from the Brumbies camp about missing out on that finals spot last year. They've got plenty of motivation to knock us off. They think they've got a point to prove," Wallace-Harrison said.

"They're a very good team. They had a very good year last year and look like they've built on that. [But] we're better."

Reds squad:

Forwards – Nigel Ah Wong, Albert Anae, Jarrad Butler, Saia Faingaa, Liam Gill, James Hanson, Greg Holmes, Ed O'Donoghue, Eddie Quirk, Jake Schatz, Rob Simmons, James Slipper (capt), Adam Wallace-Harrison.

Backs – Quade Cooper, Chris F'Sautia, Nick Frisby, Mike Harris, Digby Ioane, Jono Lance, Ben Lucas, Dom Shipperley, Ben Tapuai (vc), Aidan Toua.

3 comments

  • Ewen Mackenzie, one of the wisest, most sensible men in Australian rugby. What a great loss to the Waratahs this fellow was. Even without Horwill and Faaingaa, the team will make a good fist of this game. I'm backing them. Nice to see they haven't been tarnished with the organised crim/drugs scandal.

    Commenter
    Peter
    Location
    West End
    Date and time
    February 14, 2013, 3:11PM
    • Good physcology by McKenzie.
      By saying that he thought it incorrect that the bookmakers are making them the underdogs, he is really saying that the Reds are going to win (without bragging about it).
      The intention, to place some seeds of doubt in the Brumbies players.
      Clever stuff.

      Commenter
      Emuarse
      Location
      Brisbane
      Date and time
      February 14, 2013, 5:01PM
      • If your taking sleeping pills do youurself a favour and don't tonight. Just go to a Brumbies game instead, same result.

        Commenter
        Bighouse
        Location
        Canberra
        Date and time
        February 15, 2013, 11:42AM
        Comments are now closed
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