Reds captain Liam Wright has turned to Wallabies great John Eales in his bid to lead Queensland to the Super Rugby AU title.
The Reds meet the ACT Brumbies in a top-of-the-table battle at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, with the Queenslanders desperate to deliver their rivals a warning ahead of the finals series.
Regardless of the result, the Brumbies can’t be knocked off top spot and will host the grand final on September 19.
The Reds have already secured second placing and hosting rights to Saturday week’s semi-final against either the Waratahs or the Rebels.
Queensland’s good season has been aided by the leadership of 22-year-old Wright, who has defied his young age to stand tall and set an example on and off the field in what has been tough year due to the implications of COVID-19.
“It’s been a good and challenging year, and I’ve learnt a lot from it,” the flanker said.
“I’m just trying to take the lessons I get and apply them wherever we end up.”
Those lessons include tutelage from Queensland and Wallabies legend Eales, who led Australia to World Cup glory in 1999.
“John Eales has been really good,” Wright said.
“He’s always reaching out to lend a hand, and I spoke to him a few times through COVID.
“One of the main things you get from him is to listen, and take in as much as you can. The more information you have to make a decision, the better.
“Queensland’s lucky. We’ve got a great, rich history with old boys like that, and they’ve been really keen to lend a hand here.”
Wright said the mentoring had rubbed off on the entire Reds squad.
“Everyone who’s played in that jersey this year has stepped up” he said.
And that will again need to be the case on Saturday night, with Wright confident the Brumbies would knowledge relax in the knowledge they had already secured grand final hosting rights.
“I think they’ll be up for it. They’ll have to play their strongest team to try to get some combinations going into that grand final,” Wright said.
“They’ve got a good squad, (and) a good bench that’ll look to have impact.
“I don’t think they’ll have switched off. They got next week to do that where they don’t have to play. I think they’ll come ready.”
Wright said the Reds intended to “put the heat” on the Brumbies.
“We want to get a win against them to make a bit of a statement and get some momentum going into the finals,” he said.