Five key talking points for the Queensland Reds heading into Super Rugby Pacific 2023 | Latest Rugby News

Five key talking points for the Queensland Reds heading into Super Rugby Pacific 2023 | Latest Rugby News

The Queensland Reds are hoping to build on last season’s quarter-final loss as they try to establish their title qualifiers.

Brad Thorn’s men started the year strong, winning seven of their first eight games before injuries took their toll.

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They battled Kiwis opposition again and saw them be leapfrogged by Australian rivals ACT Brumbies and NSW Waratahs to finish in seventh place, eliminated by the Crusaders.

Heading into next year, several players are eager to step up the line with their World Cup spots while Brad Thorn looks to repeat his 2021 success.

With this attitude Rugby.com.au looks at the top five talking points for the Reds heading into 2023.

1.Delivery against the Kiwi teams

This was the key issue in last year’s talks but remains central to the Queensland Reds as they fail to secure those crucial victories over the Kiwi opposition.

The Reds started the year on fire, but when that transition came they struggled to adjust to the Kiwis’ style of play.

A single win over Moana Pasifika was all they could achieve, and saw them limping through to the finals before losing to the Crusaders back-to-back.

There’s no chance of entering the competition like last year and opening their season against the Hurricanes. It will be a perfect benchmark after giving up a 17-0 lead against the Wellington side during the Super Round and setting the tone for the rest of the season.

Brad Thorn’s tenure as Reds manager has been a resounding success, although he will feel the pressure if they fail to get off to a strong start in 2023.

2. Injury problems do

A big reason for the Reds’ late-season collapse can be traced to their extensive injury record.

Taniela Tupou and James O’Connor were the two big losses as they failed to adapt. They will remain on the sidelines for the foreseeable future after picking up fresh injuries during Wallabies or club duties.

Tupou’s loss is big and leaves the Reds struggling following a long-term injury to Harry Hoopert, who plays for Australia A.

They signed Pathway product Phransis Sula-Siaosi, but it’s a position where they remain skinny without kicking another ball in 2023.

As for Flyhalf, Lawson has shown Creighton he can handle Super Rugby but needs to find another level if he is to lead the Reds to glory.

3. Suli’s time to shine

Heading into 2023, there might be no player under more pressure than Suliasi Vunivalu.

Vunivalu has been earmarked as a wallaby since the move but finds himself down the pecking order after disappointing performances for Australia A.

This has seen the likes of Mark Nawaqanitawase and Jock Campbell skip the league converter in the back-three depth charts for the Wallabies.

He has an incredible X factor on his day and needs to remind everyone how special he can be on his day in order to book his ticket to France

4. Show to prove

Harry Wilson’s status in the Wallabies setup is no clearer 12 months after the question asked in last year’s version of this preview.

Wilson suddenly switched from starting in a Bledisloe test to being out of the Spring Tour when he fell behind Valetini, Samu, Gleeson and co.

With backline stocks healthy as ever, Wilson will be desperate to nail his place in the Wallabies’ roster.

The same goes for James O’Connor when he returns from injury.

A shocking omission from the rest of the rugby championship, O’Connor apparently bore the brunt of the smashing loss to Argentina.

The flyhalf position remains wide open if O’Connor can return to full fitness and regain his 2021 form.

5. Disciplinary Issues

No Australian team has given away more maps than the Queensland Reds, with 14 maps in 2022.

That included two consecutive red cards for Tuaina Taii Tualima and Dane Zander, with 13 different players drawing the ref’s wrath.

This is a key issue that Thorn needs to work on if they are to compete with the best.

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