Queensland captain Liam Wright believes the Reds are perfectly placed to take the final step and win a title after retaining 31 players from last year’s program ahead of the 2021 Super Rugby season.
The Reds continue to invest in developing elite talent at Ballymore with 89 per cent of the current 37-man squad unveiled on Monday having come through the Reds Academy programs or played junior rugby for Queensland.
Now fuelled by the pain of losing the 2020 Super Rugby AU grand final to the ACT Brumbies, Wright declared the Reds were primed for sustained success.
“We’ve built something good that the whole changeroom really enjoys each other’s company,” Wright said.
“They know they are going to work hard for each other, and we’ve done a pretty good job in the last couple of years connecting to Queensland.
“Ninety per cent of the boys have come through the pathways, so they really want to play for their home state.
“There have been times before when we have let people go and lost some really good talent that had come through our club pathways.
“It is sort of that conveyor belt. We’ve got Queensland really churning out talent and it is really a proud rugby state.
“It is just up to us how we use the talent and how they can contribute to our squad.”
Queensland Reds recruit Suliasi Vunivalu attends his first training run with the club. Picture: Tom Mitchell/QRU.Source:Supplied
The Reds have also been boosted by the signing of former Melbourne Storm winger Suliasi Vunivalu.
Fresh after winning his second NRL premiership with the Melbourne Storm, Vunivalu linked-up with his new Queensland teammates last week to begin preparations for the 2021 Super Rugby season.
The Reds will also be bolstered by the addition of five Developing Squad players with Queensland Club Rugby products Ben Grant, Brothers duo Hudson Creighton and Matt Faessler, plus University of Queensland backrower Sam Wallis and Wests playmaker Isaac Henry all handed part-time contracts.
With the addition of Jordan Petaia who signed a four-year deal in 2018, a total of 13 players have signed long-term deals to remain at the Reds reinforcing the QRU’s strategy to develop elite talent in Queensland.
Wright knows there is something special building at the Reds, which is evident every time the team takes the field.
“There were games last year when we were defending our own line and there was just no quit from the boys,” he said.
“It is just something really special to know that the guy either side of you is doing his part to build towards something.
“But we didn’t quite fully get the job done last year, so it is great that we have so many people staying with us again to try and go that one step better.”
Reds coach Brad Thorn will once again lead a world-class coaching roster alongside assistants Jim McKay (Attack) and Michael Todd (Defence), plus Cameron Lillicrap (Scrum Coach) and Damian Marsh (Athletic Performance Manager).
“It’s great to keep a consistent group – both players and staff, heading into the 2021 season,” Thorn said.
“Close to 90% of our guys have come through the system here in Queensland which we’re really proud of.
“The majority of this group have been together for nearly five years now and they’re all mates. They care about the cause here at Queensland and we’re all looking forward to the year ahead.”
Queensland Reds 2021 Squad
Matt Faessler – Brothers
Feao Fotuaika – GPS
Harry Hoopert – Brothers
Alex Mafi – Bond University
Josh Nasser – University of Queensland
Zane Nonggorr – Bond University
Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
Taniela Tupou – Brothers
Dane Zander – Norths
Angus Blyth – Bond University
Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
Ryan Smith – Brothers
Tuania Taii Tualima – GPS
Fraser McReight – Brothers
Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
Seru Uru – Easts
Sam Wallis – University of Queensland
Harry Wilson – Brothers
Liam Wright – Easts
Lawson Creighton – Brothers
Bryce Hegarty – GPS
Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
James O’Connor – Brothers
Moses Sorovi – Wests
Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland
Hudson Creighton – Brothers
Josh Flook – Brothers
Isaac Henry – Wests
Hunter Paisami – Wests
Jordan Petaia – Wests
Hamish Stewart – Brothers
Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
Filipo Daugunu – Wests
Ilasia Droasese – Wests
Mac Grealy – University of Queensland
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