The once-extravagant Queensland Reds became one-dimensional and predictable in attack last season, according to flanker Eddie Quirk.
Workaholic flanker Ed Quirk admitted the Queensland Reds turned into a stodgy, one-dimensional team last year but has promised a return to their extravagant ways in 2014.
Braced for a rugged Super Rugby derby against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night, Quirk said all Reds players had been charged with the responsibility of playing a more expansive game.
Queensland became predictable in attack, scoring only 31 tries from their 17 matches in 2013, but made the finals on the back of their strong defence and breakdown efficiency.
New coach Richard Graham wants to boast more attacking threats, not just leave the creative work to Wallabies halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper, to leave defences guessing.
Graham particularly wants his back-row of Quirk, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz to play as link men between the backs and forwards.
Quirk, a former Australian sevens player, said the trio were keen to add to the attacking style but they weren’t the only ones in a settled and experienced pack.
“Props, hookers, second-rowers, everyone in between – we’re trying to get the brand of Reds rugby out there and get a bit wider and use the ball more instead of being a one-dimensional team,” he said.
Too often, the Reds came up short by keeping the ball in the forwards with pick-and-drives in the opposition 22 rather than using the ball.
“Last year, sometimes we got caught out a bit and you would wake up pretty sore after games, but we’re playing a more expansive game and use the ball more and cut out that full-on contact,” Quirk said.
“When we have to dig deep and go we will because we are used to that but we want to use the ball.”
Quirk and the Reds back-row, though, know their first priority is winning a ferocious breakdown battle against what is the best loose-forward combination in the country, and possibly the competition.
In Scott Fardy, Ben Mowen and David Pocock, the Brumbies boast two incumbent Wallabies and the leading ruck warrior in the game.
Graham admitted the ACT outfit caught out the Reds with their breakdown intensity in last year’s opening round 24-6 loss.
“They have some world-class players who get on the ball but we’ve done a lot of stuff in the pre-season to counteract that so we’re a bit more proficient at the breakdown,” the red-headed No.6 said.
“It will be a good test for us.”
Aidan Toua is set to beat Lachie Turner to fullback when the Reds team is announced on Thursday while much intrigue surrounds who will partner Mike Harris in the midfield.