Reds coach has Super finals plan - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds coach has Super finals plan

Darren Cartwright 15/02/2011 06:17:24 PM Comments (0)

Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie doesn't want his players to sidestep high expectations ahead of the new Super Rugby season, declaring the Reds to be unashamedly ambitious in 2011.

Breaking the mould of coaches downplaying their side's chances in order to reduce pressure on players, McKenzie said the battler's tag belonged to another team in the expanded 15-team competition.

McKenzie has good reason to set lofty goals for the Reds, who finished fifth in 2010 after seven underperforming seasons.

"We are not interested in being the underdog, other teams can go out there and try and grab that space - they can have it," said McKenzie.

McKenzie wants his players to aim for finals action and to use that ambition as motivation rather than a millstone.

"We're happy to carry the burden of expectation," McKenzie explained.

"I think that's not a bad space to be in. We want to be ambitious.

"We want to get in the finals so we are not going to shy away from that. That's the plan."

Queensland, who start their Super Rugby campaign against the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, have been boosted by the news that Anthony Faingaa is available.

The hard-running centre missing both of the Reds' trial games because of a thigh strain, and said depth in every position is building a competitive environment at the club.

"Depth in positions creates a healthy culture," said the four-Test Wallaby.

"It's what drives you to become a better player.

"At Wallaby level, at this level, even at club level, having that drive just makes you want to be a better player."

McKenzie said he had focussed on creating depth with some shrewd off-season signing.

"I've put time in the recruiting space because I just know, having been around a while now, I know how important it is to have a deep squad," McKenzie said.

"We're trying to create a performance environment. We don't sit there and say - who are our Wallabies? Let's put them in the team and go from there.

"It's really about what we've asked players to do over a period of time and respect that. There's no doubt Wallaby players are our most experiences players, so that's not lost. But I don't start from that point.

"As much as last year was interesting, the Reds and Wallaby season, in the end you start again. You can rely on the experience they've gained but you've got to keep living in the moment."

He said the team to face the Force will be named on Thursday.

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