Reds mentor Richard Graham is under pressure to relinquish his defensive coaching duties after his side leaked 31 points per game this season.
Queensland Rugby Union chief executive Jim Carmichael wants extra coaching assistance for Richard Graham as the Reds finished a forgettable 2014 as Super Rugby’s second-worst defensive team.
Graham’s team conceded an average of 31 points per game as they bumbled to 13th with just five wins in a dreadful fall from grace following four seasons of top-five finishes.
Only the helter-skelter Cheetahs (527) leaked more points than the Reds, who let in 493 points and conceded 52 tries – a staggering 29 more than 2013 when it was their strength.
Graham can’t be accused of being a poor defence guru, handling the duties both seasons, but last year it was his main priority as an assistant to coaching boss Ewen McKenzie.
As the main man in 2014, Graham admitted he has focussed more on the side’s attack – which has scored 42 tries compared to 31 last year.
“Ultimately, that’s bitten us,” he admitted.
Although Graham said it was the area that needed most fixing, he remains keen to keep the defensive responsibilities.
“The adage is true – attack brings the crowd and defence wins championships,” he said.
Carmichael admitted a blind man could work out Queensland’s biggest problem as they dropped to where they were before McKenzie arrived, but backed Graham to decide if he stays in charge of defence.
He said Graham could either relinquish the duties or ask for extra assistance as the QRU begins their post-season review.
“One way or the other Richard will oversee a far more superior defence,” Carmichael told AAP.
“We clearly dropped the ball because we took our eye off defence and we’ve known that for some time.”
The CEO was adamant the painful 34-3 final-round loss to arch-rivals NSW didn’t change anything in terms of their plans for 2015.
Carmichael has closely kept secret his new recruits – expected to include James O’Connor and Karmichael Hunt – while not announcing the players retained.
While Graham could not reveal when announcements would be made, Carmichael confirmed it would be “in the next couple of weeks”.
“We’ve pretty well got where we want to be,” he said. “There’s just a couple of pieces to tidy up.”
Asked whether the Reds had filled the big hole left for a tackle-busting back-rower, Carmichael cryptically said “we have and we are”.