Queensland playmaker James O’Connor claimed the underdogs tag for his group main into Saturday evening’s blockbuster with the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium.

The Reds are coming off a formidable 32-20 victory over NSW and have a 5-1 document this season however they’re nonetheless smarting from their solely loss, a 16-12 nail-biter in Canberra a fortnight in the past.

“They’re the head of Australian rugby and we’re chasing them,” O’Connor mentioned on Thursday.

“They’ve been essentially the most constant group this yr in Australia … I really feel we’re nonetheless constructing, which is an effective factor, as a result of final yr we in all probability peaked a bit too early.”

He has revealed an nearly telepathic bond with ball-running prop Taniela Tupou because the facet prepares for the following chapter of their Brumbies rivalry.

Prime spot on the Tremendous Rugby Pacific ladder will go on the road this weekend – the Reds might bounce the unbeaten Brumbies with a bonus-point win. Historical past means that might be onerous to come back by although.

Whereas the house facet in Reds v Brumbies video games have received a outstanding 14 of the final 15 clashes, the margin has been 5 factors or much less in seven of the final eight.

That features the Reds’ last-gasp three-point win within the 2021 home ultimate – the Brumbies’ final journey north – and a controversial four-point win to the Brumbies in Canberra earlier this month.

On that event the Brumbies have been capable of stifle the Reds’ scrum efficiency, with Tupou bouncing again to dominate at set piece in a gutsy win in opposition to the NSW Waratahs final week.

Whereas O’Connor was fast to make clear their scrum would hinge on all eight massive males, he mentioned 25-year-old tighthead prop Tupou’s affect on the sport had grown to new heights this season.

“He’s simply genuine; Nella is Nella,” O’Connor mentioned.

“As he will get older and as he’s rising he’s turning into a lot extra dependable.

“Now I can simply take a look at him and inform the place he’s at and he’ll let me know whether or not he’s bought it as nicely.

“In set piece, but additionally together with his power on the sphere (typically play) … he creates house all around the area and I imagine he’s solely getting higher.”

Second-rower Lukhan Salakaia-Loto will return from an ankle damage for the Reds, whereas Liam Wright and Filipo Daugunu will begin instead of the injured Seru Uru and Jock Campbell.

But to play a recreation this season, off-contract winger Suliasi Vunivalu (hamstring) is eyeing a return within the Reds’ April 15 conflict with the Melbourne Rebels. 

Brumbies five-eighth Noah Lolesio (ankle) is out injured and received’t get the prospect to push his case for a Wallabies cap later this yr in opposition to incumbent O’Connor, whereas Take a look at halfback Nic White will come off the bench every week after the beginning of his third little one.

“We all know every others’ video games inside and outside … it’s really easy to rise up for these ones,” O’Connor mentioned of the rivalry.


Author: Londonlad

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