Robbie Deans wary of fearless Reds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Robbie Deans wary of fearless Reds

By Jim Morton 09/05/2008 02:12:19 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies coach-elect Robbie Deans is genuinely wary about his Crusaders' Super 14 title quest being rocked by a rebuilding Reds side playing without fear.

Despite their lowly ladder position, Deans delivered healthy praise to 11th-placed Queensland and rookie coach Phil Mooney ahead of their Suncorp Stadium clash on Saturday night.

The ultra-successful Crusaders mentor said the Reds would be in contention for the play-offs if they started the season playing the vibrant, attacking rugby they are displaying now.

A 29-12 upset of the Western Force followed by surprise second-half scares of the Chiefs and Blues have shown the 2007 wooden spooners are making great strides under Mooney.

"They're a very good side and are playing great rugby and they're getting better and better as time's gone on but haven't had a lot of luck to be fair," Deans said of the Reds.

"We have a lot of respect for the type of rugby they're playing.

"They're not afraid to play, so it will be good encounter, there's no doubt about that.

"They ask questions of you and you're not sure where those questions are going to be."

The title favourite Crusaders need only a bonus point against the youthful Reds to lock up top spot and hosting rights for the upcoming play-offs.

They're well on track for a remarkable seventh Super rugby title in 13 seasons and to give Deans a fitting farewell before he takes up the reins at the Wallabies at the end of the month.

But Deans wants to ensure his side has strong momentum heading into the finals, knowing that eight teams are battling for the last three final spots.

"We're pleased to be in that position we're in instead of being in that group that is really scrapping it out for those last three places," he said.

"But we're conscious of the fact that whoever survives that process is going to enter the play-offs in a very well prepared way so we've got to make sure what we do is caters for our needs."

Deans has rested five of his senior players and brought Daniel Carter back from injury on a star-studded bench in moves more designed to have his squad prepared for the finals rather than underestimating his opponents.

With Mooney employing two ball-players in Quade Cooper and Berrick Barnes, just as the Crusaders have for the last decade, the Reds style is not dissimilar to the Cantabrians.

Deans gave Mooney, who has seen his side score twice as many tries this year (28 from 11 games) than in 2007 under Eddie Jones, his stamp of approval.

"From a coach's perspective you seek progression and he's made great progress," he said.

"You can see that not only in terms of the on-field execution but also the chemistry."

Five-eighth Cooper declared Queensland harboured the confidence they could produce a major boilover to break a nine-year drought against the competition powerhouses.

The Reds need to discover the confidence to close out games after failing 32-20 to the Chiefs and 35-22 to the Blues in the past fortnight.

The return of Wallabies fullback Chris Latham from injury for his penultimate Reds appearance brings much-needed experience as well as his signature flair.

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