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The 2002 Reds squad
The 2002 Reds squad
(Ok I'll admit it to myself now: 'John Eales has retired')
14 Nov 2001
The 38 member squad is due to the ARU asking that extra players get into the routine for the next Super xx team to be based in Aus. That may or may not go ahead as according to some people the NZRU are trying to blackmail $15 million out of the ARU. ( see: the full story)

Letís leave that alone as international wars have been started over less. All Iím going to say is its about time someone screwed the ARU instead of the ARU making the players, supporters and spectators bite the pillow while they conduct dodgy media deals and make it impossible to get (or afford) tickets to the games, etc, etc (bet you lot thought I would support the ARU).

I have divided the squad into who is likely to run on followed by the bench or replacement players and then the squad members. Where I canít determine who will get the spot (i.e. hooker and halfback I have left the bench/replacement spot blank).

Starting Line up

Bench/Replacement

Squad

1

Nick Stiles

Simon Kerr

Anthony Mathison*
Fletcher Dyson

3

Glen Panaho

2

Sean Hardman / Tom Murphy*

Tim Tavalea

4

Nathan Sharpe

Mike Mitchell*

Rudi Vedelago*, Mark Chisolm*, Andrew Farley*

5

Mark Connors

6

Matt Cockbain

John Roe

Tom McVerry*, Rob McDonald*, Daniel Heenan*

7

David Croft

8

Toutai Kefu

9

Jacob Rauluni / Ben Wakley *

Sam Cordingley

10

Elton Flatley

Paul Warwick*

Andrew Scotney*

12

Steve Kefu

Junior Pelesasa/ Jason Ramsamay

13

Daniel Herbert (c)

11

Ricky Nalatu / Wendell Sailor*

Either Junior Palesasa/ Damian Smith / Ricky Nalatu / Wendell Sailor*

Michael Tabrett, Richard Graham*

14

Ben Tune

15

Chris Latham

* new squad members.

Before I get into analysing the squad I must finally admit it to myself that John Eales has retired. Another great loss will be Michael Foleyís ability to get the forwards organised and his ability to take no crap. The loss of both of these players is considerable and when the loss of David Wilson is factored into the equation this has reduced the Reds ability to control the breakdown. It was a bit dodgy this year with the loss of Wilson and Eales being off the field, however I believe that without Foleyís intervention and coordination that this is going to be the week link in the Reds game. Croft did have a good debut season but he is going to need more help in securing the ball.

Instead of developing this into a full in depth analysis of who is what and how they will play I will concentrate on a couple of key areas. However, I must point out that I donít know a lot of these players or have only seen them play one or twice and their names havenít sunk in. I blame the lack of decent media coverage or a televised national competition (that isnít just going to be based in Sydney) to help me remember who they are and how they play but again most people just recon Iím simple.

The Forward Pack:
The front row
Losehead: Stiles no question as he has had a good season both internationally and domestically.

Tighthead: Panaho got injured at the start of the international series and didnít recover his spot. However, I still think he is the better choice out of the remaining squad. I donít know much about Mathison and I donít like Dyson as I donít believe he has the skills.

Bench: Kerr is a solid player and deserves the spot. He has been on the bench on and off over the last couple of years and he could force his way onto the starting lineup.

Hooker: This spot is going to be interesting. Hardman has been the reserve for Foley for the last couple of years and Murphy has been the replacement for Paul (ACT). I cannot predict who is going to get the start out of these two players. I think it is going to be a good fight for that spot. Tavalea may be the dark horse of the squad (no pun indended). I am unfamiliar with him and he could make the lineup.

Second row:
The combination of Conners and Sharpe get the nod. Sharpe has all the skills and has preformed admirably for Qld especially when Eales was injured for all of the 1999 season and since then. He even forced Conners to the bench during this years Super 12 once Eales got back. He made the Wallaby training squad this year, he tackles hard and had a field day against NSW in the State of the Union Clash when he buried several key players into the Ballymore turf. He gets into position well and has great hands. If he could kick goals he would at least imitate John Eales. He apparently had a blinder in the East Coast Cup.

I saw Mitchel against the Lions (Townsville game) and he is a big son of a ****. My knowledge of the other players is lacking. Hopefully he could also back up in the no 6.

The lossies:
Cockbain and Kefu donít need an introduction. Croft played very well in his debut Super 12 season and is likely to have another big year. Roe spent most of the time on the bench last year however he will have great competition from the other players.

The Backs:
The Haves:

The halfback spot is up for grabs with both Rauluni and Wakley vying for the spot. Cordingley doesnít really deserve another shot at the spot after an appalling Super 12 season. Wakley was George Greganís understudy at the Brumbies and he has all the skills as demonstrated in the ACT v Lions game. He also offers a great kicking option both field placing and goal kicking. Rauluni is the incumbent and provides quick clean ball to both sides of the paddock and he can snipe well when needed.

Flatley has the mortgage on the 5/8 spot and no doubt Ďsquare bearí will visit the shrine on several occasions next season. Warwick will be his backup (see comments on Qld v NSW game) and I think will only get better with time. Interestingly enough the former backups Spooner and Draham are now playing in Europe. Australia just like NZ and SA are haemorrhaging young players who are currently 2nd and 3rd string at the moment to the European ranks. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by all unions.

Centres:
Steve Kefu and Herbert again provide a strong platform in the centres (both in the Wallaby squad). However, they have to be on their toes to avoid being dropped to make way for Ramsamay and Pelesasa, even despite Herbert being captain. Both of these reserves are dynamic, hard runners, harder tacklers and they can both move and put players into the gaps. The Reds centres and their reserves will be one of the form combinations next season. Pelesasa in my humble one-eyed opinion will be a Wallaby during the 2003 World Cup and he will have a scorcher.

The back three:
Latham has the full back spot. The wing spots are really up for grabs. I have put Tune in 14 and Nalatu or Sailor in 11. However, really both Tune and Sailor want the 14 jumper. It will depend upon two key factors: Can Tune go through a season uninjured?; and how quickly Sailor can adapt to the game and get his field placings right.

There are also two other factors to consider. Tune could play centre and Palesasa can also play wing. So who actually ends up on the bench is going to be interesting. But the best news of all is that I don't have to worry about Williams stuffing up the back three.

Summary
If the Qld forwards are able to hold their own then especially in the scrums and R&M region then the backs will be able to provide the finishing. The quality is in the backs and it is going to take several of the forwards to make sure that they fire and donít spend too much of their time seagulling in the backs.

Side note 2-ex Reds players are now in the ACT squad and they are Scott Fava (lossie) and Scott Barton (back three).

by Geeves

Let us know what you think!

Hmm, so where do you think they will finish in the standings Geeves?
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