Quirk hopes to show more flair for Reds

Ed Quirk, the Reds flanker with the World Wrestling Federation hair, insists Queensland are on alert for everything but an elbow off the top rope as they prepare for their Super Rugby opener against the Brumbies on Saturday.

Quirk shapes as a key player for a Queensland side determined to find the kind of attacking zing that saw them skip away with the 2011 title. Last year, that attack faltered, particularly when they lost 24-6 to the Brumbies in 2013’s first round.

With a pack lacking the muscle and bulk of some rivals, the Reds are once again intent of swinging the ball around the park, rather than crashing one-out drives into the kind of muscular defence the Brumbies are certain to provide.

Coach Richard Graham wants the attack to flow not just from Will Genia and Quade Cooper but from the backrow. With a background in Sevens and a good handle on the ball, Quirk wants to see some more room when the chances arise.

But he said to exploit that opportunity, it first had to be gained at the breakdown. After losing George Smith, the Brumbies now bring David Pocock to the fight. It’s a fair replacement.

The Reds were stung by the physical intensity of the Brumbies in this fixture last year and never recovered during the match. Quirk said some heavy duty training with forwards coach Nick Stiles had sharpened them for the expected onslaught.

“They’re good. They’ve got some world-class players that get on the ball. We’ve done a lot of stuff in pre-season with Stilesy to counteract that so we’re a bit more efficient on the ball,” Quirk said.

“Just some hard stuff, him being an ex-prop, just getting in and getting your head in bad places.

“Last year we got caught out a bit but we’re playing a more expansive game. We want to use the ball more but if we have to dig deep and go, we will.”

The return of that adventurous spirit was evident in the first trial against the Chiefs but the Reds battled in their loss to the impressive Rebels last week.

Graham was hardly impressed but Super Rugby is a different ballgame and Quirk said the confidence was high, especially given the good news about Quade Cooper’s neck injury.

The Reds couldn’t best the Brumbies in two outings in 2014, while the ACT went on to make the grand final as the Reds dipped out early in the finals race.

Quirk admitted there was some history between the teams and the derby had become as heated and important as the more traditional meeting with the Waratahs.

“The Reds and the Brumbies had some history last year, with some really hard fought games. We didn’t come out with a win but to start off the season again with the Brumbies, it’s good for us,” Quirk said.

“It’s a new year. We had a poor ending to the season and they went through to the grand final.

“Both games were very physical and there’s a lot of Wallabies versing each other. Wallaby spots are up and a lot of guys push for that. And you want to top the Australian conference.”