Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Competition on Red Alert; with a Revamped Squad, Queensland Could Bounce Back from a Horror 2016 in Super Rugby, Writes Jim Tucker

Newspaper article News Mail Bundaberg Qld.

Competition on Red Alert; with a Revamped Squad, Queensland Could Bounce Back from a Horror 2016 in Super Rugby, Writes Jim Tucker

Article excerpt

WARHORSE George Smith has warned star clusters don't guarantee a winning team, only the edgy attitude behind it, which is the vibe he is already picking up from the rebuilt Reds.

Friday night's Super Rugby lift-off against the Durban-based Sharks at Suncorp Stadium is as much about the birth of an upgraded team culture as it is about a skills overhaul and winning back fans with some real try-power.

The Wallaby great has seen teams crammed with big names flop and lesser rosters soar into finals, all because of the chemistry that becomes a team's bedrock.

At 35, Smith has won a trailer-load of individual and team trophies in Australia, Japan and England over his long career, so you listen when he distils what makes the difference.

"A team with big names doesn't guarantee you anything," he said.

"As long as players care, that is a big factor.

"It's also not reaching moments where you are searching for things in games, because you are going to be successful when it's habitual with the way you use your arsenal."

Quade Cooper always finding Karmichael Hunt or Samu Kerevi with a slick ball wide or inside, winger Eto Nabuli sniffing for midfield work, back-rowers eager to run, the scrum as a weapon from penalties - the arsenal is taking shape.

"I've always wanted to be a part of a team building into something great and I believe the Reds can be a force and up with the best of teams," Smith said.

The 2015 Reds are a perfect example of star names in a fizzer of a team. How else do you describe a line-up with James O'Connor, All Black Adam Thomson, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, James Horwill, James Slipper and Rob Simmons winning just four games and conceding 53 tries?

Every day of the four- month pre-season, new Reds coach Nick Stiles has tried to develop stronger bonds between his players so when the heat arrives on the field, they'll dig in for each other with a double effort in defence or find an extra metre to back up a break. …

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