Reds ready for change

WITH newly appointed Queensland Super 14 rugby coach Ewen McKenzie determined to shake things up in 2010, competition for places in the Reds line-up has heated up along with the pre-season weather.

The Reds play their first trial game against traditional New South Wales in Lismore on January 23 and McKenzie is keeping an open mind on the make-up of his team and those that will follow in trials against the Crusaders (Ballymore, January 29) and Western Force (Perth, February 5).

“People like to do the mathematics of it all, work it out based on what has happened in the past but what has happened in the past hasn’t been good enough,” he said.

“We can’t just roll out the same team and expect to be massively different.

“Sometimes it’s about shaking it up a bit and doing things differently, not just about being orthodox and logical.

“We’ve got to try to make sure we’ve got the right mix.”

The Reds finished a dismal 13th in 2009 with just three wins to their credit but since his appointment late last year McKenzie has been impressed with his players’ enthusiasm and their attitude towards improvement.

“They are very keen to be better,” the former NSW coach said.

“That doesn’t mean it will happen tomorrow or next week, but they are keen to be better and they’re practising habits that will hopefully make them better.”

One of those who has impressed McKenzie is troubled Wallabies back Quade Cooper.

Cooper, arrested on the Gold Coast last month on a burglary charge, returns to training today after undergoing a knee operation following his breakthrough Wallabies tour of the UK.

But while allowed to train, he is unlikely to play in Lismore with his playing future still in doubt after his arrest in the early hours of December 6 and subsequent court appearance.

“He’s good to get back into (training),” McKenzie said.

“I’ve met with him a few times and obviously we’ve dealt with all the issues as much as we can but we’ve largely talked about what we (the Reds) are doing here and I’ve enjoyed the discussions.”

If Cooper is cleared by the ARU and QRU to return to start the season, he’ll likely be available for the Reds trial matches against the Western Force.

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