Reds and Cooper to make a good fist of upcoming season

Getty Images and James Mortimer     10 Jan 2013     Getty Images

The Reds returned to preseason training late last week re-energised and ready to tackle the challenges of what will be a huge year of Rugby in Queensland throughout 2013, which includes eight blockbuster regular season Super Rugby home games at Suncorp Stadium and a historic tour match against The British & Irish Lions in June.

The Lions match is a great opportunity for the Reds to test themselves against elite international Rugby talent from England, Ireland Scotland and Wales, while in Super Rugby, the Reds are pursuing their third straight Australian Conference title and second Super Rugby championship in three years.

However, before then, the Reds focus is on both February trial games, against the Blues in Toowoomba on February 2 and against the reigning Super Rugby champion Chiefs on the Sunshine Coast on February 8.

Both are critical encounters before the team’s round one Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies in Canberra on February 16 and Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie has emphasised the need for players to excel in the opportunities they will be offered leading into and during the trials.

“We've worked extremely hard on building a roster where there is healthy competition and stronger depth across all positions and the creation of the Reds College for 2013 has added to our available playing stocks,” McKenzie said.

“There will undoubtedly be a number of difficult selection choices to be made before round one so the next month is critically important in the evaluation process where we will be wanting to see the best each player has to offer and where they are at.

“Already we’ve seen an increase in intensity since welcoming back our Wallabies after Christmas and it’s important that we continue this momentum leading into our trials and then the season.”

The Reds commence 2013 with their target of 40,000 members well within their sights with 23,000 supporters already pledging their commitment to the team for the upcoming season.

Reds Members in 2013 will enjoy a loaded Rugby schedule at Suncorp Stadium with Super Rugby matches against all four Australian Conference opponents, New Zealand’s Blues and Hurricanes and South Africa’s Bulls and Sharks to go along with The British and Irish Lions tour match on June 8.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said that Quade Cooper, despite training as a boxer during the off season, looked raring to go.

He's been getting his boxing done around normal training," he said.

"The quality of his rugby training has been outstanding, he seems in a very good space. He is highly motivated and very switched on.

"He is adding a lot not just in terms of the team but also a lot of mentoring around some of the younger guys.

"And it is the first time since I have known him that he's had a contract longer than one year - he is fairly settled."