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Team Preview: The Reds

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018    allblacks.com    Getty Images

Home: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Last year: 14th

Squad (additional players yet to be named):
Forwards: Sef Fa’agase, Harry Hooper, James Slipper, JP Smith, Taniela Tupou, Markus Vanzati, Alex Mafi, Andrew Ready, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Angus Blyth, Kane Douglas, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Michael Gunn, Reece Hewat, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Angus Scott-Young, George Smith, Caleb Timu, Liam Wright

Backs: Nick Frisby, Tate McDermott, Moses Sorovi, James Tuttle, Hamish Stewart, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Filipo Daugunu, Lachlan Maranta, Eto Nabuli, Izaia Perese 

Game breaker:
At 6’5 and 105kg Eto Nabuli is an imposing sight on the wing for the Reds. In just his second season in rugby union last year following a stint in the NRL, Nabuli was the Reds leading try-scorer. During the season he showcased his attacking flair with a hat-trick against the Western Force and was rewarded with a Wallabies call-up. Nabuli is a genuine game-breaker and provides the Reds with real firepower out wide alongside Samu Kerevi and former NRL star Lachlan Maranta.

Coaching shakeup:

Although the 2018 Reds squad features 10 new signings, the biggest shake up comes off the field with an all-new coaching team. Former All Black Brad Thorn takes the head coach role with former Wallaby Paul Carozza and former Rebels coach Tony McGahan coming on board as his assistants. Change has been in the air at the Reds over the offseason, but the new coaching team have a big task to turnaround the Reds after a few seasons of underperforming. Word out of the Reds camp is that the players have been training the house down for their new coaching team.

Returning veteran:
With an influx of new and young faces in the Reds, veteran prop James Slipper will be an important cog in the line-up. Slipper’s impact will not only be felt as a world class front rower, but also as an experienced head to call on for the younger players. Slipper has captained both the Reds and Wallabies in the past and will be called on by Coach Brad Thorn as one of his key leaders. Slipper is also sitting on 95 Super Rugby caps and will want to make his centurion year a memorable one.

The scoop:
The Reds are a real unknown quantity this year. They are lacking some of the big names of recent years but may have more direction and purpose under their new coaching structure. A number of home-grown players have been added to the Reds squad meaning that pride in the jersey will not be lacking. If the Reds can start the season strong they could be a real contender in the Australian conference, otherwise it might be another long season for Reds fans.