Reds coach not distracted by Gasnier - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds coach not distracted by Gasnier

By Jim Morton 25/02/2010 06:41:42 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie has stressed the Reds won't lose focus on retaining the bulk of their rebuilding squad ahead of trying to lure Mark Gasnier to Ballymore.

Two-dozen players - two-thirds of McKenzie's roster - come off contract this year, leaving the Reds open for another Western Force-style raid with the Melbourne Rebels about to enter the 2011 Super 15.

Wallabies backline duo Quade Cooper and Peter Hynes are the two biggest names at the top of Queensland's must-keep list and are also in the sights of rival franchises.

But the majority of the off-contract Reds are inexperienced youngsters and McKenzie has little time to gauge their overall worth before anti-poaching restrictions are lifted on March 15.

The new coach has quickly shown his hand by giving rookies opportunities and continued to show faith on Thursday by sticking with 23-year-old hooker Saia Faingaa for Saturday night's Ballymore clash with the Blues ahead of fit-again veteran Sean Hardman.

McKenzie has been keeping in close contact with his former Stade Francais charge Gasnier, who is mulling over a return to Australia to possibly play for the Wallabies in the 2011 World Cup.

The Rebels have reportedly made an offer to the league convert but the Reds' retention plans won't be sidetracked by outside recruitments.

"There's a whole heap of players we're interested in, most particularly the players we have got here at the moment so we have to make sure we're not looking over the fence and not looking at our own backyard," McKenzie said.

"You have to be careful where you dedicate your time."

Coming off a 41-20 upset of the Crusaders, McKenzie warned more stirring wins were required to help safeguard the interstate raiders.

In 2005, a struggling injury-affected Queensland was pillaged after then skipper Nathan Sharpe signed with the Force and also played a part in teammates moving west.

McKenzie took the NSW Waratahs to the Super 12 final that year and he also lost leading players Brendan Cannon, Cameron Shepherd and Lachlan MacKay.

"Timing's everything. In `05 it was everything," said McKenzie.

"I was involved with a winning team at that point in time and even being in a winning team made it easier but it didn't mean we didn't lose players.

"People having confidence in your program is critical and young guys have got to see a pathway and see that their efforts are rewarded, they have to feel they are wanted.

"I think we're on the right track but we'll see."

Seasoned lock Van Humphries (head knock) also returns from injury to play the Blues in place of skipper James Horwill, who will undergo his knee reconstruction on Friday.

Blues coach Pat Lam has dropped All Blacks prop Tony Woodcock to the bench while Rene Ranger has replaced the injured Isaia Toeava (hip) in the centres.

Queensland: Peter Hynes, Digby Ioane, Morgan Turinui, Anthony Faingaa, Rod Davies, Quade Cooper, Will Genia (capt), Scott Higginbotham, Daniel Braid, Jake Schatz, Van Humphries, Adam Byrnes, Laurie Weeks, Saia Faingaa, Ben Daley. Res: Sean Hardman, Greg Holmes, Robert Simmons, Leroy Houston, Richard Kingi, Tim Walsh, Will Chambers.

Brought to you by AAP AAP © 2024 AAP

0 Comments about this article

Post a comment about this article

Please sign in to leave a comment.
Becoming a member is free and easy, sign up here.

« All sports news