Quade Cooper: Reds must show Force respect
QUADE Cooper has made the blunt admission that the Reds have blown games they should have won against the Western Force by not showing the club enough respect.
That shabby failing has finally been digested by the Reds who get the chance to atone big-time in Friday night's high-stakes clash at Suncorp Stadium.
The Reds have lost six of their past nine games against the Force, a damning statistic when they have entered every one of those with more Wallabies.
Almost always they have been favourites but too often believed the battlers' tag of the Force and come up short on intensity.
"It's the most crucial game of the year for us, do or die, and against a team we have a lot of history with," flyhalf Cooper said.
"At critical times in the past, we've not turned up and given them the respect they are owed.
"At other times, we've catapulted our season with a result over the Force as we did in 2011 when we were down until we scored a last-minute try in Perth."
Cooper made the savvy call that the edgy mood to win this game should already be brewing in the whole team because 2017 is at that critical, last-roll-of-the-dice stage.
The Reds (16 points) must win to keep pressuring the conference-leading Brumbies (23) before the two clubs meet at Suncorp Stadium on July 7 after the Test break.
"We're at that crossroads where we have to find something to win the game before we start and that's the right mental focus all week," Cooper said.
The loose 26-19 loss in Perth in March was soft and came on top of the meek, tryless disgrace of last year in Brisbane when coach Richard Graham was axed after a 22-6 crash.
Reds coach Nick Stiles isn't reading anything into the poor Force showing in the wet last Saturday night when they were thrashed 55-6 by the Highlanders in Perth.
"If you don't do the hard work against the Force, you get what you deserve as we did in March," Stiles said.
The Force will have more starch with abrasive pack leader Matt Hodgson due to be back on Friday night from ankle trouble.
The Reds are clear of injury after a bye weekend but will be without winger Izaia Perese and back-up flyhalf Hamish Stewart for the next two games.
The pair fly out tonight for the World Under-20s Championships in Georgia where the young Aussies meet Wales (June 1), Samoa (June 4) and England (June 9) in pool play.
Jake McIntyre will have a new look when he's reinstated to the Reds bench this week after copping a broken nose in Sunnybank's 49-19 belting of premiers Brothers on Saturday.
The strong ball-carries of lock Izack Rodda in his 80-minute effort for Easts in the 14-10 loss to second-placed GPS have tuned him for a key role against the Force.