With a number of big signings secured and exciting players returning, is this the year the Reds rediscover their championship winning form?
Home: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Last year: 15th
Quade Cooper, Kane Douglas, Sef Fa’agase Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Leroy Houston, Karmichael Hunt, Samu Kerevi, Adam Korczyk, Chris Kuridrani, Alex Mafi, Campbell Magnay, Lachlan Maranta, Jake McIntyre, Stephen Moore, Eto Nabuli, Cadeyrn Neville, Jayden Ngamanau, Duncan Paia’aua, Pettowa Paraka, Izaia Perese, Andrew Ready, Izack Rodda, Rob Simons, James Slipper, George Smith, Moses Sorovi, Henry Taefu, Sam Talakai, Caleb Timu, Hendrik Tui, Lukhan Tui, Taniela Tupou, James Tuttle, Markus Vanzanti
Not many teams have recruited better than the Reds in the offseason. While the return of Quade Cooper and switch of wing Lachlan Maranta from the Brisbane Broncos will provide some potency in the backline, Scott Higginbotham and Stephen Moore will be just as influential in the forward pack. Higginbotham was a key part of the Reds Super Rugby championship winning side in 2011 and is a player who commands respect the world over. His return to the Reds is a clear signal that the Reds aren’t to be taken lightly in 2017.
After racking up 142 caps for the Brumbies since debuting in 2000, legendary loose forward George Smith has made the switch to the Reds for what could be his last season of Super Rugby. The 37-year-old hasn’t played Super Rugby since the 2013 season but has got into incredible shape for a potential swansong season in Queensland. While he is sure to be ‘Mr Reliable’ on the field, Smith’s experience and knowledge will be invaluable for the younger players in the squad.
Although the Reds underperformed in 2016, centre Samu Kerevi impressed as one of the most dangerous ball runners in the competition. With incredible strength and pace to burn, Kerevi gave the Reds backline a genuine game breaker and was rewarded with a spot in the Wallabies. With playmaker Quade Cooper on his inside this season, expect even more opportunities for Kerevi to show his flair.
After a number of disappointing seasons since winning the title in 2011, the Reds will be back to their dangerous best in 2017. While the core of last year’s key performers are still there, the arrival of Quade Cooper, Scott Higginbotham, Stephen Moore and George Smith will in still pride back in the jersey and allow young stars like Taniela Tupou, Semi Kerevi and Chris Kuridrani to shine.