SBW's off-loads in Reds' sights - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

SBW's off-loads in Reds' sights

Laine Clark 24/05/2011 04:06:00 PM Comments (0)

Offloads may be a Sonny Bill Williams' strength but Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie hinted they may also prove a weakness in Sunday's Super Rugby blockbuster in Brisbane.

The Crusaders are brimming with All Blacks including captain Richie McCaw and champion five-eighth Daniel Carter but Williams is the name on everyone's lips ahead of their Suncorp Stadium showdown with ladder leaders Queensland.

The superstar league convert is being tipped to return from a knee injury to continue his eye-opening Super Rugby debut season.

While McKenzie marvelled at the big centre's skill at off-loading one-handed passes in tackles, the Reds mentor noted they could backfire under the right sort of pressure on Sunday.

"He's got a good off-loading game but those offloads don't always come off," said McKenzie on Tuesday.

"There is a bunch of turnovers that come with it.

"Go through the stats. Some games he was effective and others he wasn't."

No stranger to nurturing league converts, McKenzie said he was not surprised that Williams had become a Super Rugby force.

Williams comes off contract with the NZRU after this year's World Cup and is in hot demand from league and rugby clubs alike.

"I am not surprised (by his rugby success)," McKenzie said.

"He is an excellent athlete, got good skills - they have adapted their game around it and profited from that.

"Good players always find a way to push through."

But McKenzie said the Reds would not be preoccupied by just one player when they vie for a 12th straight win at Suncorp Stadium against the seven-time champions.

Buoyed by last season's 41-20 Suncorp Stadium win over the perennial contenders, McKenzie said the Reds wanted to impose themselves on their visitors.

"We will be coming up with a strategy that is right for us - not spend all our time on one player," he said.

"That tends to happen when there is a focus but they have lots of good players - there are AllBlacks everywhere.

"You have to consider the ramifications of the abilities of all their players and make sure you understand it.

"You also have to play your own game and not spend your time worrying about the opposition - you have to impose yourself.

"But I think we handle the Crusaders pretty well."

A crowd expected to break the Australian Super Rugby attendance record - held by the Reds at 42,237 for their 2004 clash with the Waratahs - will also help the hosts.

Not that McKenzie dismissed a Canterbury line-up that may also welcome back All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock (ankle), Test halfback Andy Ellis (hand) and back-up openside flanker Mike Todd.

"You hope you are offering up something that is going to threaten them, but they are a very experienced side," McKenzie said.

"They have come up against some pretty good sides over the years and have pretty much conquered the lot.

"They have experience in these big game environments but it doesn't mean they always get it right.

"We have been good particularly at home in the big games and this is another one for us."

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