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Criticism of Queensland's culture was well wide of the mark


Ewen McKenzie

Missing link ... Quade Cooper's injury did the Reds no favours this season.

Missing link ... Quade Cooper's injury did the Reds no favours this season. Photo: Getty Images

One thing I've learnt coaching is that every decision you make is never 100 per cent right or wrong, but the worst thing you can do is be guilty of not making a decision or having no opinion at all.

This doesn't just hold true in the coaching world. Rugby operates within an environment where opinions on teams and individuals are commonplace - writers are paid to scrutinise and analyse performances, often with the benefit of hindsight and with the pressures of an uncertain media landscape where a headline, exclusive or cheap quote has never been worth more.

Whether we agree or disagree with what is written, this is the reality of our world and the truth is no one is more critical about the Reds and their performances than the coaching staff and players. We are not immune to criticism or praise, either internally or externally. However, we work hard to ensure our actions on and off the field portray our group in the best possible light.

Pleasingly, I get to write this column, where I can articulate my thoughts about the game. I enjoy the opportunity to give my thoughts, with the benefit of hindsight, and sometimes set the record straight against pieces written to make a story more appealing to the reader.

Personally, I can't hide my disappointment at one piece published at the weekend questioning our culture here at the Reds. After years of being anchored to the bottom of the Super Rugby table, our players and staff have worked extremely hard to create a winning Queensland team.

During this period, our fans, members and partners have backed us to the hilt and were rewarded when we won our first Super Rugby championship last year and a second straight Australian conference title this year.

Suddenly, our tactics, discipline and culture were all called into question, and our efforts undermined.

This is despite the fact that this group overcame much adversity during a challenging regular season in which we used six five-eighths and recorded our first bonus-point victory over the Waratahs since 2003, securing another finals place in the process.

For me, it's ultimately the playing group which is the best judge of culture, and I am proud to say that our playing group has given our professional rugby program and organisation a huge vote of confidence.

At the beginning of the season we had 14 players coming off contract, and each one of these players were targeted by another Australian Super Rugby province. All but one player has recommitted to the Reds, and perhaps even more telling was that most accepted smaller financial offers to stay.

Attitude, not just skill, wins teams championships, and we'll return next season as a more formidable group as we chase another Super Rugby title. We know our supporters will be there, too.

Speaking of titles, my skills as a tipster were shown up last week, when I couldn't pick either winner in a two-horse race. But, as expected, both semi-finals were quality affairs, played at the highest intensity.

I love the fact that the Sharks are defying logical thinking and now have the chance to become just the second team to win a final on the road and overseas. The Crusaders are the only team to have won a final match on the road, doing so on three occasions, highlighting just how important home-ground advantage is.

We now have a final that will produce a first-time champion. I maintain that champion teams are often characterised by their great attack and desperate defence.

Not surprisingly, we have that on both ends this weekend.

As I mentioned, better to make a decision than have no opinion at all. Therefore, I'll tip the Chiefs in an exciting affair - hopefully the penalty shoot-out won't be required.

10 comments so far

  • Wise words Ewan and my congratulations on what you and the squad have achieved over the past two seasons. Having been involved in the code in the 60's and 70's, haviing been at Ballymore and hearing the chant "We want 50!!!" when we thumped the Waratahs, having refereed the main weekend QRU club natch one weekend when, if the seconds had not stayed, there would have been nobody at Normanby to watch the firsts - yes, I've been involved in some very skinny times for the QRU. There are many thousands out there who want you to continue succeeding. Proud to say I am one of them.

    Grae Gafia
    Sandstone Point
    Date and time
    August 02, 2012, 1:27PM
    • Link: one of the articles I read questioned your logic in shifting one of the best, if not the best players in his position, Genia.

      Whilst your fluff piece addresses those criticising the culture of the Reds; you claim these articles give you the opportunity to respond and set the record straight. With the added benefit of hindsight.

      Do you still believe, with the benefit of hindsight, shifting Genia was your best decision.

      Looking forward to your response on a widely (and wildly) criticised tactical move (as opposed to fluff pieces). Set the record straight Link. I am calling you out.

      The Couch
      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 3:50PM
      • Growler, Ewen has already stated that Harris had sustained an injury and that the only man left who had trained at 5/8 was Genia.

        Perth via Rakaia
        Date and time
        August 07, 2012, 6:04PM
    • Judging by the response(s) to the latest "Link" article it seems to tell a story pretty much like the state of union in Australia, lethargic & apathetic.

      Date and time
      August 02, 2012, 8:00PM
      • Thank you sir for some intelligent insightful journalism.

        Reds are the champs
        Date and time
        August 02, 2012, 9:35PM
        • Well said Ewen. Agree 100%. This year it has been a real challenge where the Reds have sufferred major adversity. To win the Aussie conference was spectacular and a true reflection of the character of the side. The Reds culture is magnificent. As stated the loyalty shown by the players to the future of the club is a true indication of a great culture. Reds you are on track. Keep up the great work. 2013 is a new year. Go the Reds !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

          Date and time
          August 03, 2012, 2:53PM
          • This has been my first year as a Reds paid up supporter (I am in my 70's and female!) and have not regretted my decision to be a supporter. I was proud that the reds made it to the finals despite much adversity and will support next year. My thanks to Ewan McKenzie and his gallant team for a good season despite the ups and downs.

            Margaret Landbeck
            Date and time
            August 03, 2012, 3:02PM
            • "One thing I've learnt coaching is that every decision you make is never 100 per cent right or wrong, but the worst thing you can do is be guilty of not making a decision or having no opinion at all."

              That is it in a nutshell. Well said Ewen, and well played to you and your team.

              Wellington, NZ
              Date and time
              August 05, 2012, 10:38AM
              • "...the Crusaders are the only team to have won a final on the road"???? And you have specifically stated here that you get wound up by what others write? Mr McKenzie, the Bulls pipped the the Sharks in Durban to win 20-19 in the 2007 final. The Bulls' trip from Pretoria to Durban must count as an "on the road" victory does it not? I'm sure Bulls fans will be understably wound up by what you have written in this article... or to be precise, what you didn't write (i.e omitting their team's "on the road" victory alongside the Crusanders' three championship finals wins "on the road").

                Demoz Dez
                Date and time
                August 06, 2012, 10:57AM
                • I can only assume he means 'on the road' to mean overseas, in which case the Crusaders are the only team to have done so.

                  Perth via Rakaia
                  Date and time
                  August 07, 2012, 6:05PM

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