Reds coach Brad Thorn. Picture: Peter Wallis
Reds coach Brad Thorn. Picture: Peter Wallis

Red alert: Time for Thorn’s men to step up

THANK you Dan McKellar. The Brumbies coach put the Reds' 2020 quest in perfect perspective on Wednesday when he said they can no longer hide behind the "young" tag.

A little calculated niggle always stirs up the start to a new season and McKellar is unwilling to let the Reds again sneak into it with no external expectations.

Friday night's Reds-Brumbies clash in Canberra may well be an early preview of their jostling for the play-off spot that comes with top spot in the Australian conference.

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Bookmakers Ladbrokes have been dozing through the off-season to post the Reds at $101 to win Super Rugby and beat only the Sunwolves home.


The Reds won't win it but they will go closer than the Melbourne Rebels ($21) and can finish higher than the Brumbies ($19) or Waratahs ($34).

Reds captain Liam Wright, Angus-Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Taniela Tupou are all in the 22-23 age range while backs Jordan Petaia, Isaac Lucas and Tate McDermott are even younger.

"Geez, they've been 'young' for a while now ... these guys must be getting older, surely," McKellar said. "They've been around Super Rugby for a while (so) I think we can park the 'young' tag for the Reds.

"I'm sure they've got high expectations of themselves winning the Australian conference."

The Reds do need to step it up and beating their Australian rivals more often in derbies like this is where it starts.

Thorn has picked exciting 112kg youngblood Harry Wilson for his debut as a ball-carrying, off-loading No.8.

Harry Wilson will make his Super Rugby debut for the Reds on Friday night. Picture: QRU Media
Harry Wilson will make his Super Rugby debut for the Reds on Friday night. Picture: QRU Media

Wallabies lock Izack Rodda will come off the bench after not playing a minute in the trials while finalising his recovery from post-World Cup ankle surgery.

"Harry is a real prospect, a big, strong boy at the back (of the scrum) and highly skilled," Thorn said. "We had a couple of wins in the trials but it's business time now and we know, in league or union, it's a tough place to win down there."

Day-time temperatures are forecast to soar to 40 degrees before the night time kick-off.

A bushfire burning to the south is regarded as Canberra' biggest bushfire threat since 2003.

Super Rugby bosses on Wednesday released bushfire smoke guidelines.

"Matches will only proceed when conditions are deemed satisfactory" by an Air Quality Assessment Panel, a statement read.

"It's close to home when the Lonergan family (of players Lachlan and Ryan) are down in that area as well as staff so it's in the forefront of our minds," McKellar said.