The champion Reds may have lost to the Waratahs last year, but coach Ewan McKenzie learned from that experience and has targeted mobility as the key to beating his old team in their Super Rugby opener next week.
The Reds showed an impressive ability to adapt their game to the opposition on their march to their first Super Rugby title last year and it is something that McKenzie is keen to develop as they look to defend their crown this season.
He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "You need to be a team for all seasons and not just a one-trick pony. We did that last year and are continuing to expand on it."
The Queensland team came unstuck against the Waratahs in their brutal Australian derby in Sydney last year, and former Waratahs boss McKenzie claimed full responsibility for the 30-6 defeat, explaining that he got his selection wrong for that match.
The Reds went into that clash with a massive forward pack that had captain James Horwill at loose forward alongside Scott Higginbotham and Ed Quirk with Van Humphries partnering Rob Simmons at lock, but things should be different next week with McKenzie likely to pick a more mobile pack.
He said: "We've been playing all of the smaller guys who play hard on the ball, play more in attack, and we're getting good value … I don't think we need to have a massive forward pack.
"We just need to get the right balance. That was one of the lessons learnt last time we played them [the Waratahs]. We have to make sure we get the selection balance right. I'll put my hand up and say I got that dead wrong," added the Reds boss.
The Waratahs have since lost the services of renowned fetcher Phil Waugh, and with ball-thiefs Beau Robinson and Liam Gill at his disposal McKenzie will be keen for his team to win the battle for the ball on the ground.
Having retained the bulk of his champion squad this season McKenzie is feeling bullish about their prospects this year if they can maintain the momentum they built up last year.
"We won 85 per cent of our games last year and have the same group of players. They're playing well … and if we can keep that going through the season we'll be going pretty well," he said.
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