Lions a 'catalyst' for Oz resurgence

Tue, 28 May 2013 07:53
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Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believes that the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour and better luck have resulted in raised standards Down Under this season.

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie believes that the upcoming British and Irish Lions tour and better luck have resulted in raised standards Down Under this season.

The Australian Super Rugby conference has been far more competitive this year than in the past, with minnows the Rebels and Force claiming some big scalps and the Waratahs lifting themselves out of the bottom third of the standings.

McKenzie's Reds team have been the pace-setters in Australia for the last few years, winning the competition in 2011 and edging out Jake White's Brumbies to top the conference last year, but those two sides have not had it as easy this year.

The Waratahs have started playing to their potential after a horror show last year despite their high ratio of Wallabies, and the Rebels and Force have proved that they are no pushovers with some plucky performances.

Whilst the carrot of possible selection for the Wallabies squad to face the Lions has been a crucial part of this resurgence, McKenzie pointed out that there have also been far less injuries to deal with this year.

He told this website: "Obviously the Lions is a bit of a catalyst, but all these injuries are just timing. We are having better luck this year.

"We have just got more fit players, last year there was a bunch of injuries but now we have got the bulk of the key players on the field and we have just got to make the most of that," said McKenzie.

With just one match left before the June break, there could be some danger of players losing focus ahead of the Lions series, but McKenzie was adamant that his team will not let anything distract them from their game against the Rebels in Brisbane on Saturday.

"We don't see an impact of the Lions tour at all in our discussions. It is obviously ever-present in the newspapers back there, but I don't see the players talking about it, they are quite determined to do well for the Reds," he said.

With six places still up for grabs in Wallabies coach Robbie Deans' final squad, there is plenty for those Reds players who are not currently in the mix to prove, especially as they face the Lions the week after they play the Rebels.

"We have got a bunch of guys who have been involved with the Wallabies in the last 12 months and missed out on the squad, but the best thing for all of them is to perform. Injuries are happening every week and people are droppping out.

"In two weeks time the Reds are playing the Lions so we have got that - we are the first cab off the rank in terms of the provinces so the rest of the guys who aren't in the Wallabies squad at the moment will get a chance to show what they have got," McKenzie explained.

By Michael de Vries

There are currently no matches being played
Sat, 17 March 2018
Jaguares v Reds 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sun, 18 March 2018
Waratahs v Rebels 05h05 Sydney
Fri, 23 March 2018
Dragons v Cheetahs 22h00 Rodney Parade
Connacht v Edinburgh 22h00 Sportsground
Munster v Scarlets 22h00 Thomond Park
Ospreys v Leinster 22h00 Liberty Stadium
Cardiff Blues v Ulster 22h00 Cardiff Arms Park
Glasgow Warriors v Zebre 22h00 Scotstoun
Kings v Treviso 22h00 Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Crusaders v Bulls 06h35 Christchurch
Rebels v Sharks 08h45 Melbourne
Bath v Exeter Chiefs 19h45 Recreation Ground
Sat, 24 March 2018
Sunwolves v Chiefs 04h15 Tokyo
Hurricanes v Highlanders 06h35 Wellington
London Irish v Gloucester 15h00 Madejski Stadium
Sale Sharks v Worcester Warriors 15h00 AJ Bell Stadium
Saracens v Harlequins 15h00 London
Stormers v Reds 15h15 Newlands
Newcastle Falcons v Northampton Saints 17h30 Kingston Park
Jaguares v Lions 21h40 Estadio Jose Amalfitani
Sat, 17 March 2018
Wales v France 14 | 13
Lions v Sunwolves 40 | 38
England v Ireland 15 | 24
Stormers v Blues 37 | 20
Italy v Scotland 27 | 29
Brumbies v Sharks 24 | 17
Highlanders v Crusaders 25 | 17
Fri, 16 March 2018
Cardiff Blues v Treviso 31 | 25
Edinburgh v Munster 12 | 6
Chiefs v Bulls 41 | 28
Sun, 11 March 2018
Wales v Italy 38 | 14
Sat, 10 March 2018
Jaguares v Waratahs 38 | 28
France v England 22 | 16
Lions v Blues 35 | 38
Ireland v Scotland 28 | 8
Team P W D L Pts
B&I Lions 0 0 0 0 0
Australia 0 0 0 0 0
Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Force 0 0 0 0 0
Reds 0 0 0 0 0
Waratahs 0 0 0 0 0
Brumbies 0 0 0 0 0
Rebels 0 0 0 0 0
NSW-Queensland 0 0 0 0 0
Blues 0 0 0 0 0
Highlanders 0 0 0 0 0
Hurricanes 0 0 0 0 0
Crusaders 0 0 0 0 0
Chiefs 0 0 0 0 0
NZ Barbarians 0 0 0 0 0
Maori All Blacks 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0