Queensland winger Rod Davies says the Reds must be just as wary of Springbok Willie le Roux as they were of Israel Folau last week.
The last time South Africa’s Super Rugby entertainers, the Cheetahs, visited Suncorp Stadium, Quade Cooper produced an audacious cross-kick in his in-goal and Queensland ran riot in a 41-point spree.
But it’s the Reds who are on guard for the party tricks and risky moves from the Bloemfontein surprise packets on Friday night.
Blazing winger Rod Davies said Queensland, smarting from a 32-5 hiding by NSW, were braced for the expansive Cheetahs to test their under-fire defence all over the paddock.
The big improvers of 2013, who went one straight kick from upsetting the Brumbies in the play-offs, the Cheetahs are also desperate to bounce back after their upset 35-14 loss to the Melbourne Rebels.
“These guys throw the ball around and they play a side-to-side game and we’ve been focusing on that,” Davies said.
“They’ve got some live sparks in their team who like to run it from anywhere so we have to have our heads on for that.”
It’s a far cry from when the Cheetahs were easy meat for the title-bound Reds in 2011 as they were thumped 41-8 and the unpredictable Cooper kicked to Digby Ioane from behind his own goal-line for a 70-metre break.
Springbok flyer Willie le Roux epitomises their play and Davies felt it was just as important to keep the ball away from the Cheetahs fullback as it was to try an limit Israel Folau’s attacking opportunities for the Waratahs last week.
“Definitely, he’s the go-to guy in the Cheetahs team and he’s showed last year what he can do,” the one-Test Wallaby said.
“He’ll run it from anywhere, he’ll chip-kick, he’ll grubber, he’ll do anything.
“I love to watch him play but this week we have to be on to him because he’s one player who can tear the game away from us.”
Davies’ promotion, replacing Lachie Turner (knee), for his 46th Super match caps a quicker-than-expected return from a knee reconstruction following a horror blow in last year’s final-round win over NSW.
The winger ruptured his three main ligaments when he hyper-extended the joint after making a half-break at ANZ Stadium.
But, after sacrificing his holiday break to focus on his rehab and playing strongly in trials and Queensland A matches, Davies is confident he’s lost none of his renowned pace and agility.
“After the first game, to tell you the truth, I haven’t even thought about the knee while playing,” he said.
“If you’re second guessing yourself, then you probably aren’t ready.”