The struggles of Queensland’s NRL sides have not gone unnoticed by the state’s Super Rugby team, who have spied a chance to win over their own long-suffering fans and perhaps attract a few more to the 15-man code.
The unbeaten Queensland Reds sit on top of the Super Rugby AU standings after two rounds, in stark contrast to their rugby league rivals the Brisbane Broncos, North Queensland Cowboys and Gold Coast Titans.
That limping trio reside in the bottom five of the NRL table on the back of competition-worst defensive records.
A similarly leaky defence has plagued the Reds during a miserable run over the last six seasons, a period that has seen them finish no better than 13th overall.
But halfback Tate McDermott senses a change is coming, along with a potential shift in code-allegiance in the sunshine state.
“For far too long we’ve let our fans down. We’ve still got a bit of redemption to go but we’re finally giving them something to cheer about, I hope,” McDermott said on Monday.
“There are a few struggling codes at the moment in Queensland. If we can capitalise on that and ride that tide of support … it’s going to be massive for our team and massive for our organisation.
“We owe it to them. It’s been tough in the past but we’re all in this together.”
The in-form McDermott said his young team are gradually learning how to win close games, although they could not quite get across the line in Friday’s dramatic 18-18 draw with the Rebels.
He said fighting back from 10 points down late on to force the game into super time golden point showcased the spirit of a side that had been rocked by the shock release of Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Isaac Lucas during the lockdown period.
“It was ugly there for a while but we came away with points and that’s the main thing in this tournament.
“At the moment we’re top of the table, which is promising. We’ve still got a long way to go and we know that more than anyone.”
The Reds next face a Western Force side who impressed in the early stages of their first match back in Super Rugby before going down 23-14 to the NSW Waratahs at the weekend.
Few at the Queensland outfit have forgotten being outclassed 40-26 when they last faced the Force at Suncorp Stadium three years ago, weeks before the Perth-based outfit were tipped out of the SANZAAR-run competition.
Sign up to our mailing list for a weekly digest from the wide world of rugby.Sign Up Now