Shellshocked Queensland must consider dumping defensive liability Morgan Turinui and under-performing prop Greg Holmes to flash a message that the Reds’ serial mediocrity will not be tolerated.
Jim Tucker writes in The Courier Mail that for far too long, the Reds culture has been to cuddle non-performers and cross the fingers that a better performance will be coaxed out of them in the next game.
No more. The measure of new coach Phil Mooney will be if he cuddles or beheads the worst of the woeful lot who surrendered 43-11 to the confident “Baby Brumbies” in Saturday night’s shame game in Canberra.
One of football’s greatest motivators is the glint of a razor-sharp selection axe, yet the Reds have rarely had the depth over the past six seasons to use it.
They don’t have great depth now either but it’s time to forget reputations. The Brumbies have promoted no-name youngsters like centres Leo Afeaki and Tyrone Smith because of injuries and been rewarded with hungry, five-star efforts.
Outside centre Turinui has 20 Tests to his name, yet was made to look like a back-pedalling traffic cop by impressive first-gamer Afeaki.
He was one of the most culpable in a ragged Reds defensive line which never advanced with any authority. Brumbies coach Laurie Fisher knew it too by flooding runners at the passive outside channels.
Centre partner Chris Siale (hamstring) will miss Saturday’s Super 14 clash against the Cape Town-based Stormers at Suncorp Stadium so the prospect of a new centre pairing looms large.
Charlie Fetoai, 21, may not have Turinui’s pedigree but he’s an abrasive defender, has played well for Queensland A in recent weeks and may just be the style of hungry young bull capable of lifting with a chance at inside centre.
A Fetoai-Peter Hynes centre pairing is a possibility. If Turinui survives, it may be with a switch to inside centre.
One of rugby’s top defensive coaches is currently unemployed. John Muggleton should be hired on a month-long contract to fire up the Reds’ absent line-speed.
“Our performance was embarrassing,” Reds winger Clinton Schifcofske admitted.
The Reds’ front row of Rodney Blake, Stephen Moore and Holmes entered the game with a combined 40 Tests, yet absent were any of the hammering cleanouts or clubbing tackles that might reflect that against a rival front row with two rookies.
Holmes went missing. Ben Coutt is not in great A team form himself but give him a chance and put a rocket up Holmes at the same time.
Defence is about attitude. That it could be so poor in John Roe’s 100th game was a shameful lack of respect for the captain.Tweet