Reds

New look Reds� backrow goes on show against Blues

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The QR Reds are geared up for a new era following the retirements of inspirational leaders John Roe and David Croft, with a revitalised backrow primed to be unleashed for the 2009 Super 14 season.


The 6-7-8 trio of Hugh McMeniman, Daniel Braid and Leroy Houston will have its first hit-out against the Blues in Friday night’s trial in Auckland.


Dynamic ball runner Leroy Houston says he’s certain the new look group will perform well.


‘I’m extremely confident we can do the job. We wouldn’t be in the side if we couldn’t,’ said Houston, who enters his second season with the Reds.


‘We will miss Crofty and Roe because they were talented footballers and very good players and good guys to learn off, but we’ve got Daniel Braid who’s great for us as he’s been to the international level and he shares information with us young fellas.’


Houston, whose form in 2008 earned the 117kg number eight selection for Australia A, says the inclusion of Braid in the 2009 QR Reds squad has already paid dividends.


‘Our backrow’s not too bad actually and with Daniel Braid there he just makes it even better,’ he said.


‘But for me, I just want to play footy really and play at the top level I can. I just want to get into a good team environment and hopefully get into the semis this year. That’s all I hope for.’


Houston’s competition was expected to come from former Otago Highlander Ezra Taylor, but injury will see him sit on the sideline for at least five weeks.


Taylor underwent surgery one week before the Red’s opening trial match to remove a floating piece of bone in his foot.


When he returns the big number eight may be forced to show his versatility if Houston makes the most of his head start, but it’s a role the Brisbane-born backrower is willing to perform.


‘I can cover a lot of positions including second row and in the (loose forwards),’ Taylor said.


‘Wherever I play, at lock or number eight or six, I’ll try to fulfil the role as best I can.’


The Reds’ backrow may have a new look, but Taylor’s confident they can provide the necessary platform for their dynamic backs.


‘It has been said a lot now but it’s a new team,’ he said.


‘We’re a new bunch of guys wanting to establish a new feel and at the moment it’s exciting.’


Joining Taylor from across the Tasman is fellow new recruit and 2007 New Zealand player of the year Daniel Braid, who was recruited as the Reds’ ‘marquee’ signing following the Australian Rugby Union’s decision to relax its policy on international recruitment.


‘With Crofty moving on, Daniel comes in as a seasoned international with great leadership qualities,’ QR Reds coach Phil Mooney said.


‘He really fits the bill for us. He’s a highly credentialed player as he has played for the All Blacks and he’s been a member of a championship team with the Blues.’


Wallaby McMeniman and 2008 debut Reds Poutasi Luafutu and Scott Higginbotham provide further muscle in the backrow stocks.


Higginbotham and Luafutu both entered the Super 14 arena in last season’s 40-8 defeat of the Bulls at Suncorp, while McMeniman won nine caps for the Wallabies during 2008 after being restricted to just two Super 14 matches with a broken ankle.

 

Super14.com

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