Reds still believe in Plan A
Mon, 14 Apr 2014 10:27
There is a little bit of promise there
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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