Reds prop says South Africans view Aussie forwards as 'soft'
Reds front-rower JP Smith says Queensland need to mend their wounded pride quickly ahead of a trio of games against South African sides that see Australian forwards as a soft target.
Smith, who moved to Australia with his family, including twin brother and fellow Reds prop Ruan aged 20, grew up in the South African system playing for Western Province and returned four years ago to play Currie Cup and then a Super Rugby stint with the Reds’ opponents this week, the Stormers.
“I know what they think of Australian forwards generally,” Smith said of South African sides.
“(That they’re) soft. That’s my honest opinion, that’s what South African (forwards think) because they try and bully us.
“If you take that aspect away from them, they don’t know to do.
“If you take their forward play away, they’re very niggly off the ball and they like to intimidate you and once they see you give in, they’ve got you, so it’s physical presence from the start – they want to dominate you.”
The Reds failed to deal with the pressure applied by fellow Aussies the Rebels on Saturday night, blowing a golden opportunity to leapfrog their conference rivals.
Smith said the match was bitterly disappointing, especially for the forwards, who headed into the season regarded as one of Australia’s strongest outfits at the set piece but had not dealt at times with the intensity of opponents whose match preparation had focused on the Reds pack.
“The Rebels were quite smart, in my opinion, they speed the game up on their ball and when it was our ball, they tried to slow it down a bit,” Smith said.
“Just the whole game management was pretty good.
“We are disappointed. We really wanted to win that game and it really would have set us up going into South Africa but this week coming is really important to us.
‘We need to give our fans a win so they come back and then on tour, get the job done as well.
“So this weekend is really important for us.”
But with the Stormers having lost the first two legs of their four-match Pacific tour, to the Hurricanes and Blues, Smith believes they will be desperate at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
“They want to finish well,” he said.
“They have two Australian teams left and it’s not always pleasant for those boys when they don’t win their games, so I think they’re going to target us this weekend.”
Coach Brad Thorn noted after the first match of the season that his scrum came under plenty of attention from match officials.
And Smith said the Reds’ pack power last year meant that would be a common occurrence.
“After last year and how dominant we were, we knew going in this year we were going to have targets on our back,” he said.
“Teams will come out and work harder because they’re playing the Reds because of what happened last year.
“Every team this year knew where to beat the Reds – come in and target the scrum.
“But as professional players we need to handle that.
“These next three weeks playing against big South African packs is really going to test us.
“It’s going to test the depth of the squad as well … playing big South African props – 125-130kg is a big test, so we’re going to have to be very good.”
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