REDS lock Angus Blyth has hailed the influence of Queensland coach Brad Thorn as he pushes closer to a Wallabies debut.
The in-form Blyth has another opportunity to gain the attention of Wallabies coach Dave Rennie when the Reds host the ACT Brumbies in a top-of-the-table Super Rugby AU clash at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
Lock spots are wide open in the Wallabies squad after the decisions of Izack Rodda and Rory Arnold to play club rugby in France,
Should matches against New Zealand go ahead later this year, a Wallabies lock combination of Reds teammates Blyth and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – who has played a lot of his international football as a flanker – is a possibility.
“The opportunity’s there,” said Blyth, who said Saturday’s summit battle was the ideal match to further impress Rennie.
“Whenever you have two top of the table teams going at each other, a lot of people have eyes on it and are watching that.
“We’re really looking forward to that (the match) and after the season there’s always the higher honours that everyone’s trying to achieve.”
The emergence of 22-year-old Blyth has been aided by the teachings of Reds coach Thorn, a former All Blacks lock and World Cup winner.
“Definitely being in the same position as him has helped a lot,” Blyth said.
“I can’t pick just one thing that he’s helped me with, it countless things … kick-offs, lineout catching, clearing out, the ruck, getting low, getting ready to drive through the scrum – it’s a whole multitude of things that he’s helped me with.”
Blyth and the Reds’ lineout work has shown signs of improvement in recent matches after being a problem area for Queensland early in the season.
“Our set piece is improving a lot and we’ve worked really hard on that, the lineouts, doing lots of extras during the sessions (and) after the sessions,’’ Blyth said.
“It’s come a long way from where it had been at the beginning of the season.
“We all got together … and had a debrief, analysed and looked at what’s happening in particular with the lineout, whether it be the calls, the drill, the throws.
“Once we got everyone on board … the performances improved a lot.
Regardless of Saturday night’s result, the Brumbies cannot be dislodged from top spot on the Super Rugby AU ladder and will host the grand final on September 19.
The Reds have already secured second spot and hosting rights for the September 12 semi-final against either the NSW Waratahs or the Melbourne Rebels.