Reds coaching director Ewen McKenzie. Photo: Getty Images
Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie says the ACT Brumbies have set themselves up for a fall after spending the past seven months working towards one goal - winning their season-opening clash with the Reds at Canberra Stadium on Saturday night.
The Reds snatched the Australian conference title and a play-off berth from the Brumbies last season and McKenzie said the home side's focus on revenge could make it vulnerable.
''Everything you've read, every second day there's a story about the preparation and how good it's been and they've got their best team out there and all these things we've heard and how long they've been at it - they've set themselves up for, 'it's all or nothing','' McKenzie said. ''We quite like that scenario.''
McKenzie and Brumbies coach Jake White have been sparring in the media this week, with White accusing the Queensland mentor of ''mind games'' by not naming his starting line-up until the 11th hour.
McKenzie did the same thing last year as the play-off race with the Brumbies reached boiling point, the Reds winning that clash 13-12.
McKenzie thought the Reds had done enough to earn favouritism but ACTTAB has the Brumbies as $1.57 favourites.
''We are disappointed [not to be favourites], we've never sought to be the underdog and the bookmakers have made us such,'' McKenzie said.
''We think we've got a pretty good recent record against the Brumbies, and even down here we've got a good record in recent times.''
McKenzie said Quade Cooper had returned from his very brief boxing career fighting fit.
With Brumbies Matt Toomua and Christian Lealiifano returning for their first games back from injury it should shape as an exciting battle between three playmakers vying for the Wallabies No.10 jersey.
Both Toomua (knee) and Lealiifano (ankle) suffered season-ending injuries last year.
While McKenzie admitted it was a great opportunity for the Brumbies pair to impress Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, it also meant they were under pressure.
''They're both creative players, good players, but it's up to them to deliver, too,'' he said.
''We're confident with where Quade is, they've got to deliver too, so it will be interesting to see who can.''
Last Super Rugby season was a two-horse race between the Brumbies and Reds for top spot in the Aussie conference, but McKenzie was expecting the NSW Waratahs to be pushing for that mantle this year as well.