Reds still believe in Plan A

Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:27
Large richard graham reds team

The Reds go into their bye week with the firm belief that Plan A will get them into the Super Rugby play-offs.

The Reds go into their bye week with the firm belief that Plan A will get them into the Super Rugby play-offs.

Reds coach Richard Graham - who is hoping to get a number of frontline players back from injury when they return to action against the Hurricanes on April 26 - said the next block of matches will be vital to his team's cause.

Graham confirmed that prop Ben Daley - who has been sidelined since the Round Five loss to the Sharks in South Africa with a knee injury - is up and running and should be available to play against the Hurricanes.

He added that wing Dom Shipperley (hip) and flyhalf  Mike Harris (Achilles) could also both be fit to return to action after this week's bye.

The coach said the bye this week is about "refreshing" the players mentally and physically.

However, at the back-end of the week they will start to focus on the Hurricanes, when they will work on refining their faltering gameplan.

The Reds, who are currently 12th on the Super Rugby standings, have lost four of their last five matches - going down to the Sharks (20-35 in their first match on tour in South Africa), the Lions (20-23), beating the Stormers (22-17 in their first game back in Brisbane), then slipping to a (29-32) loss to the Western Force and suffering another heartbreaking (20-23) loss to the Brumbies last Friday.

"I feel Plan A is not far from working," Graham said, adding: "We had a few three-point losses and there's no need to throw out Plan A and bring in Plan B.

"All that does is unsettle the group."

He said the bye has come at the right time.

"Any time you have a loss the playing group wants to get out there and redeem themselves," Graham said.

"At the same time we have now gone eight weeks and we travelled to South Africa - four of our first five [games] were away.

"I think it is a good time to have a bye to physically and mentally refresh before we go into another stint of games.

"The next block of four games is important, no doubt about that - we have three Kiwi teams and the Rebels before another bye," the Reds coach said of the encounters with the Hurricanes (in Wellington on April 26), Blues (Auckland, May 2), Crusaders (Brisbane, May 11) and Rebels (Brisbane, May 17).

Daley said he is keen to make a contribution, after sitting on the sidelines for a month.

In the time Daley has been sidelined the Reds' campaign has stagnated.

Despite that poor run, Daley says the Reds can still make the play-offs and he's hoping this weekend's bye will allow the entire group to prepare for a make-or-break push over the last stretch of the season.

"I hate missing games, any player hates missing game," Daley said.

"I had to watch the boys have some really tight losses, some tough defeats. It is really disappointing to be on the sideline and you can't help them."

He confirmed that he will be back for the game against the Hurricanes next week.

"It is obviously disappointing, but we are not far away," Daley said, adding: "There is a little bit of promise there.

"We still have eight games to go, four of them at home and we have every chance to make the finals [play-offs]."

He said the Reds players are "hurting" just as much as the fans are hurting at the moment.

"We need to make amends for that and it starts against the Hurricanes next weekend."

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Sat, 28 May 2016
Blues v Crusaders 07h35 Eden Park
Brumbies v Sunwolves 09h40 Canberra
Western Province v Griquas 10h15 Newlands
Blue Bulls v Leopards 12h15 Loftus Versfeld
Golden Lions v EP Kings 13h00 Johannesburg
Stormers v Cheetahs 13h00 DHL Newlands
Namibia v Griffons 13h00 Windhoek
Saracens v Exeter Chiefs 14h00 London
Bulls v Lions 15h05 Loftus Versfeld
Connacht v Leinster 16h30 Edinburgh
Sun, 29 May 2016
Rebels v Force 06h05 Melbourne
England v Wales 14h00 London
Fri, 03 June 2016
EP Kings v Sharks 17h00 Durban
Sat, 04 June 2016
Griffons v Blue Bulls 22h00 Welkom
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Waratahs 12 7 0 5 34
Brumbies 11 7 0 4 29
Rebels 10 5 0 5 23
Reds 13 3 1 9 16
Force 11 2 0 9 11
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Chiefs 12 9 0 3 42
Crusaders 11 9 0 2 41
Hurricanes 12 8 0 4 40
Highlanders 12 8 0 4 38
Blues 11 6 1 4 29
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Bulls 11 7 1 3 32
Stormers 11 6 1 4 32
Cheetahs 11 3 0 8 16
Sunwolves 11 1 1 9 9
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 11 8 0 3 37
Sharks 12 7 1 4 35
Jaguares 12 2 0 10 14
Kings 12 2 0 10 9