Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Captaincy Looks Good Fit for Slipper Slipper Steps Up for Reds; Prop to Captain Side in Trial after Horwill Withdraws

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Captaincy Looks Good Fit for Slipper Slipper Steps Up for Reds; Prop to Captain Side in Trial after Horwill Withdraws

Article excerpt

Byline: Steve Zemek

RUGBY UNION: When asked to explain his 2012 late-season surge of career-best form, James Slipper reaches for his head and gives the side of his skull several scratches.

It is not as if the Reds prop has not deliberated long and hard about it Co he has even consulted Reds director of coaching Ewen McKenzie, one of the countryCOs best rugby minds, on the subject.

Offered the observation the source of his added motivation could have been missing the sideCOs 2011 Super Rugby championship win, Slipper, 23, pauses for thought and says it is something he has pondered himself.

There are few in the Reds line-up who would value a premiership in 2013 more than Slipper. The pain of missing the sideCOs grand final win over the Crusaders in 2011 still burns bright.

He was a standout in the sideCOs championship run that year but an ankle injury put him out of the RedsCO semi-final.

He returned last year like a man possessed Co playing every game of the campaign and polling a record number of votes to win the clubCOs player-of-the year award.

When the side went into its last three games balanced precariously on the edge of finals contention and needing a perfect finish to the regular rounds, it was Slipper who stepped up.

He scored the sideCOs lone try against the Highlanders in round 17, crossed for the Queenslanders against the Waratahs a week later and earned man-of-the-match honours in the RedsCO qualifying-final loss to the Sharks.

C[pounds sterling]You could say that,C[yen] he said when asked if the pain of missing the 2011 grand final had inspired his purple patch of form last season.

C[pounds sterling]I was filthy that I didnCOt play the grand final. It would have been great if we played in it last year, but it wasnCOt to be and all I can say is hopefully we get it this year. …

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