Having won last year’s Super Rugby AU title, the Queensland Reds want to take the next step in 2022.
Having surmounted Australia, the Queensland Reds’ next aim is to conquer the Pacific.
Last year’s Super Rugby AU champions start their campaign in the new Super Rugby Pacific competition on Saturday night when they host the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium.
It’s the beginning of a 14-round regular season campaign in which the Reds will not only meet their rival Australian clubs. but also the might of the New Zealand clubs, as well as Moana Pasifika and Fijian Drua.
While the Reds are focused on beating the Rebels and also getting better of the other Australian teams, in the back of their minds are later season battles against New Zealand’s Crusaders, Chiefs, Blues, Hurricanes and Highlanders.
In last season’s Super Rugby Trans Tasman competition, the Reds lost four of their five matches against Kiwi opposition, with their only win coming against the Chiefs in Townsville.
Queensland fullback Jock Campbell said the Reds were eager to show supporters they could “mix it with the best”.
“We know they’re the best provincial sides in the world,” Campbell said of the teams from New Zealand.
“They were better in pretty much every facet. They’re the marker for our success.
“Time will tell but we’re confident and eager to play those guys.”
However after successive trial losses to the Western Force and the NSW Waratahs means the Reds can’t afford to look past the Rebels this weekend.
“We want to be consistent from the start (of matches),” said Campbell in reflecting on last season when the Reds didn’t always begin games well.
“There’s a lot of room for improvement from last year. A lot of games we won right at the end.
“(It’s about) starting early and getting on top rather than having to chase.”
Campbell is hoping for an injury-free campaign after being hampered by groin problems last season.
“I’m just super eager to get back out there,” he said.
Among Campbell’s opponents on Saturday night will be his former University of Queensland teammate, Rebels flanker Sam Wallis.
“He’s a good friend. I hope he does well but hopefully we get under his skin somehow because he does have a couple of screws loose, Campbell said of Wallis.
A charity curtain raiser will be played on Saturday between the Vintage Reds and a Tonga Invitational XV.
A host of former Reds and Wallabies great will play in the match. which will raise money for
the UNICEF Australia Tongan Recovery Appeal.