McKenzie cracking the whip early

Mon, 07 Jan 2013 09:29
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Preparations for the Queensland' Reds two February trial games got into full swing on Monday, with all Wallaby representatives back on deck.

Preparations for the Queensland' Reds two February trial games got into full swing on Monday, with all Wallaby representatives back on deck to further bolster the team's pre-season efforts.

The Reds returned to pre-season training late last week, re-energised and ready to tackle the challenges of what will be a huge year 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 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."

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Highlanders 13 10 0 3 45
Chiefs 12 9 1 2 45
Blues 13 6 1 6 33
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Kings 11 4 0 7 19