Reds dream of ending NZ Super nightmare

Jul 13, 2017 - 1:47 AM The Queensland Reds are daring to dream of ending Australia's Super Rugby nightmare against New Zealand sides with a team full of rookies in ice-cold Dunedin.

Riding high off a comeback win against bogey side the Brumbies last week, the Reds are bullish about their chances of snapping a 29-game losing streak by Aussie franchises against Kiwi teams in Friday night's clash with the Highlanders.

With star centre Samu Kerevi and dynamic back-rowers Scott Higginbotham and Hendrik Tui sidelined, coach Nick Stiles has named a youthful side for the clash.

Eight players in Queensland's starting team are aged 23 or younger, including Caleb Timu, who will make his run-on debut at provincial level.

But after watching the Reds' next generation turn around a nine-point deficit at the death against the Brumbies last Friday, skipper Stephen Moore sees no reason why they can't cause another boilover in their last match of the season.

"You have to take that mindset over there," Moore said.

"We want to be really proud of the way we finish the season and this is a key part of that, going over there.

"If you look at our games against the New Zealand teams this year, we've done some good stuff. We just haven't quite played well enough for 80 minutes."

The Highlanders, who will travel to play either the unbeaten Crusaders in Christchurch or the Lions in Johannesburg in the first week of the play-offs, are returning for their first Super Rugby match since the international break.

Before losing to the Crusaders in their last clash before the British and Irish Lions series, they had strung together a franchise-record nine wins in a row.

They will be close to full strength on Friday, with All Blacks pair Ben Smith and Aaron Smith rested, but Liam Squire and Lima Sopoaga will make their return from long-term injuries.

The Reds landed in Queenstown on Wednesday and made the nearly four-hour trek over frozen roads to Dunedin, where the undercover Forsyth Barr Stadium will provide some respite from the bone-chilling cold.

Source: AAP

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