Moore tasked with salvaging Reds' season

Mon, 20 Mar 2017 12:16

REACTION: Wallaby captain Stephen Moore has been handed the unenvious task of turning the troubled Reds' season around

It starts in Buenos Aires on Saturday - an encounter with the high-flying Jaguares.

The Reds have lost their last three matches - against the Western Force (19.26), Crusaders (20-22) and Lions (14-44) - after a last-minute win (28-26) in the opening round against the Sharks.

All hope of successful season soon evaporated, especially after this past weekend's hammering at the hands of the Lions - despite some astute off-season recruiting that includes Moore (from the Brumbies), Wallaby legend George Smith (from Wasps), Scott Higginbotham (from the Green Rockets) and Quade Cooper (from Toulon).

The encounter with the Jaguares comes at the end of a gruelling trip that saw the Reds travel almost 17 hours (11,628 kilometres from Brisbane to Johannesburg) and then had another 16-hour trip (from Johannesburg to Buenos Aires via Sao Paulo - nine hours from Johannesburg to Sao Paulo, with a stop-over of more than three hours - followed by another three-hour flight to Buenos Aires).

To rub salt into those already festering wounds the Reds lost captain James Slipper, who returned home from the team's tour of South Africa and Argentina, after suffering a ruptured Achilles in the loss at Ellis Park.

However, coach Nick Stiles believe Moore's experience - 160-odd Super Rugby matches and 116 Test caps - could be the tonic the Reds need.

"To lose him after just four games is a disappointment," Stiles said in the wake of Slipper's injury.

"However, we are extremely lucky to have the current Wallaby skipper Stephen Moore as part of the squad.

"To have someone like him stepping up to take on the official captaincy is a luxury we have.

"He [Moore] will continue to drive the cultural change in the side and it is another opportunity for him to lay a firm footprint on the side and create some really good habits that ca set us up for future success."

Stiles admitted it will be a "really tough" game against the South Americans.

"It was only a week ago that the Jaguares beat the Lions," he said, adding: "They are a quality side, filled with internationals.

"They also have a full bench of Argentinean internationals, so you know they have very strong depth.

"We need to knuckle down and concentrate on our game, make sure we play a much better style of rugby this week.

"If we do that, we will put ourselves in a position to win the game.

"We came on this tour with a goal of picking up a win and the boys are  very committed to chase that this weekend."

He admitted the demanding travel schedule is a challenge.

"This tour was always going to present many challenges for us - particularly the quality of the opposition, with the Lions and the Jaguares.

"On top of that, there is the travel load, where you fly around the world in two weeks."

@rugby365com

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FIXTURE GMT VENUE
Fri, 26 May 2017
Blues v Chiefs 07h45 Auckland
Reds v Force 09h45 Suncorp Stadium
Sat, 27 May 2017
Sunwolves v Cheetahs 05h15 Tokyo
Highlanders v Waratahs 07h35 Dunedin
Rebels v Crusaders 09h45 Melbourne
Bulls v Hurricanes 13h05 Loftus Versfeld
Wasps v Exeter Chiefs 13h30 London
Sharks v Stormers 15h15 Kings Park
Munster v Scarlets 17h15 Dublin
Jaguares v Brumbies 21h40 Buenos Aires
Sun, 28 May 2017
Lions v Kings 12h30 Ellis Park Stadium
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Pool AU
Team P W D L Pts
Brumbies 11 4 0 7 23
Waratahs 11 4 0 7 19
Reds 11 3 0 8 16
Force 11 3 0 8 13
Rebels 11 1 1 9 8
Pool NZ
Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 12 0 0 54
Hurricanes 11 9 0 2 43
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
Blues 12 6 0 6 31
Pool SA1
Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 11 7 0 4 30
Bulls 11 3 0 8 15
Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
Sunwolves 11 1 0 10 7
Pool SA2
Team P W D L Pts
Lions 12 11 0 1 51
Sharks 12 8 1 3 38
Jaguares 11 5 0 6 24
Kings 11 4 0 7 19