Qld Reds need Brown with Braid moving on - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Qld Reds need Brown with Braid moving on

By Jim Morton 10/04/2009 02:51:38 PM Comments (0)

The Queensland Reds are resigned to losing marquee Super 14 import Daniel Braid and will intensify efforts to lure Richard Brown back from the Western Force.

The Reds have pushed back Braid's contract extension deadline for a second time to allow the openside flanker to focus on Saturday's match against the Highlanders in Invercargill.

But their always slim hopes of keeping the former All Black for a second season at Ballymore have virtually faded away as he's expected to confirm a big-money switch to play in the United Kingdom early next week.

Braid is set to sign with a Magners League club in a serious blow to the struggling Reds who need to defy a terrible away record to resurrect their season against the improving South Islanders.

The 27-year-old has been among the Reds most consistent performers and has also been immense value in mentoring the team's young forwards.

Queensland have no natural open-side breakaways waiting in the wings, placing extra importance on negotiations with Wallabies backrower Brown.

A Queensland product, Brown plays No.8 for the Force and Australia but started his career at No.7, moving to Perth to escape the shadow of since retired David Croft.

But the Reds face a three-way battle to snare the 24-year-old with the Force desperate to keep their most destructive forward and NSW, fearing the possible loss of captain Phil Waugh, also in the race.

Queensland Rugby Union high-performance manager Ben Whitaker admitted he'd delayed Braid's decision deadline to Tuesday but doesn't expect good news.

"We're all thinking that way, and we haven't been left in the dark in what he's doing," Whitaker said.

"At this stage it looks more than likely he'll head over there."

Reds coach Phil Mooney and Whitaker both denied reports they were chasing Waugh's Waratahs understudy Beau Robinson.

Queensland's huge challenge to end a three-year drought on the road - and score their first ever away win over the resurgent Highlanders - has been made even more difficult with cold and wet conditions forecast at Invercargill's Rugby Park.

The Reds will need a major turnaround in terms of composure, accuracy and game management to cause an upset after big losses to the Chiefs and Force.

They must also desperately hope hooker Sean Hardman's wonky knee holds up at scrum-time against the intimidating Highlanders pack.

Mooney expects rugged Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman to return to signature form with a move back into the second-row alongside James Horwill after a disappointing fortnight in the back-row.

New halfback Brendan McKibbin will take the goalkicking duties off Berrick Barnes after replacing injured No.9 Ben Lucas (ribs) but is also on guard for a tough battle with All Black Jimmy Cowan.

"When Jimmy Cowan is on a roll the Highlanders are always performing well," McKibbin said.

"If we can shut Jimmy Cowan down hopefully we can stop the transition from forwards to backs when they get a roll on."

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