Reds coach confident of a form turnaround
THE cavalry is coming, but it might only arrive in time to carry out the corpse.
Decimated by a horror injury toll, the Queensland Reds are languishing in second-last place on the Super Rugby standings, level with South Africa's Lions on five points after five games, and above only the Blues (four).
The good news for coach Richard Graham after the 29-0 loss to the Australian conference-leading Brumbies is that as many as seven injured players could be available for the team's next game against the Lions in Brisbane on March 27.
They include star playmaker Quade Cooper (shoulder), utility back James O'Connor (knee), fullback Lachie Turner and centre Samu Kerevi (thigh).
Jamie-Jerry Tualagi (leg), Ed O'Donoghue (knee) and Rob Simmons (shoulder) are also a chance to return, with prop Greg Holmes expected to be available for the following match against the Rebels. One player likely to be missing for several weeks is flanker Liam Gill who was cited yesterday for his bizarre and dangerous throw on Brumbies halfback Nic White.
Despite the team's dire predicament, Graham said it was not too late to salvage something from the season.
"There's 11 games to go in the pool stages. Eight wins last year got two teams to the semis," he said.
"There's still plenty of rugby to be played and enough confidence in the group that we can do that."
Meanwhile, England, Ireland and Wales are level at the top of the Six Nations table on six points ahead of this weekend's final round.
England takes on France, Ireland travels to Scotland and Wales is away to Italy.
ROUND FIVE RESULTS
HURRICANES 30 (J Savea 2, T Perenara, M Proctor tries; B Barrett 2 con, 2 pen) BLUES 23 (L. Visinia, F Halai tries; I West 2 con, 3 pen); in Palmerston North on Friday night
REBELS 21 (M Harris, D Shipperley tries; M Harris con, 3 pen) WESTERN FORCE 17 (A Mathewson, T Faulkner tries; L Burton 2 con, pen); in Perth on Friday night
CRUSADERS 34 (A Ellis, K Fonotia, K Read, penalty try; D Carter 4 con, 2 pen) LIONS 6 (E Jantjies 2 pen); in Christchurch on Saturday night
HIGHLANDERS 26 (T Franklin, W Naholo, B Smith, P Osborne tries; L Sopoaga 3 con) WARATAHS 19 (N Phipps, M Carraro, S Hoiles tries; B Foley 2 con); in Dunedin on Saturday night
BRUMBIES 29 (B Alexander 2, S Moore, I Vaea, C Leali'ifano tries; C Leali'ifano 2 con) REDS 0; in Brisbane on Saturday night
CHIEFS 28 (A Cruden, J Lowe, S Cane tries; A Cruden 2 con, 3 pen) STORMERS 19 (K van Wyk try; K Coleman con, 3 pen, D Catrakilis pen) in Cape Town on Saturday night
SHARKS 27 (M Coetzee 2, F Steyn, J Wilson tries; P Lambie 2 con, pen) CHEETAHS 10 (F Venter try; F Brummer con, W du Plessis pen) in Bloemfontein on Saturday night