Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn feels the scratchy standard of Super Rugby AU will continue to improve as teams build back into form after their long competitive layoffs.

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The Australian competition has compared unfavourably to the New Zealand tournament derbies but before the Reds’ round three showdown against the Western Force on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, Thorn felt there were better times ahead.

The former All Blacks forward said jumping straight into competition without any trials after a three-month hiatus had contributed to the average standard.

“The teams are just getting started and getting used to a few things,” Thorn said on Thursday.

“You look at the New Zealand competition, they’re really humming along now.

“I imagine with our competition in the next week or two, we’ll really start to see more and more rugby played and the quality will continue to improve.”

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The Reds are unbeaten but Thorn said he expected more from his troops in their first match against the Force in three years.

“We haven’t been that happy with our first two performances,” he said.

“With the ball, we want to see a lot of improvement and we want to play some rugby.”

Thorn hoped Chris Feauai-Sautia would add some spark to their attack.

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“He’s a pretty special player when he gets in the mood,” Thorn said.

“He’s very good at keeping the ball alive, his continuity play, his pop passes and he’s a physical specimen out on the wing.

“I wouldn’t imagine he’s a pleasant guy to run into.”

Queensland’s second-row depth will be tested with injury to Angus Blyth meaning a shift for flanker Angus Scott-Young.

The Force have brought Ollie Atkins onto the bench for Johan Bardoul in the only change to their squad, with new signing Richard Kahui not included.

Coach Tim Sampson said World Cup-winning former All Blacks back Kahui was fit but hadn’t played for four months and he wanted to keep some continuity in the squad.

Prop Greg Holmes, who played more than 140 games for Reds, will be on the bench against his old team.

– Melissa Woods

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