Super Rugby: Reds face tough test in quarter-final against Chiefs

As optimistic as Reds coach Les Kiss is, he admits that Queensland faces a “huge” task on Friday night: They want to become the first Australian team in the competition’s 28-year history to win a Super Rugby final in New Zealand.

The Reds travel to Hamilton to face the Chiefs in a rematch of last season’s Super Rugby Pacific quarter-final, which the New Zealand side won 29-20 at the same venue, FMG Stadium.

The Queenslanders hit back earlier this season with a 25-19 win over the Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium, but Kiss knows it will be much harder for Australian teams to end their playoff drought on New Zealand soil.

“It’s pretty disheartening… but it’s hard to win in New Zealand. It’s hard to win in Hamilton,” he said.

“Having that home advantage is a huge thing in football finals, especially in the Super Rugby Pacific (competition)… but I am both an optimist and a realist.

“A lot is possible, but we must do our best to break this curse.”

The Reds have received a boost ahead of the decisive duel by signing former Brothers duo Ryan Smith and center Josh Flook for the 2025 season.

“I’m happy to stay here for another year. It’s a no-brainer,” said center Flook, who has played 51 games for Queensland.

“It’s a really good environment and the new faces have made a difference this season.

“There is a very good atmosphere at this quarter-final. This is partly because everyone is convinced of what we are doing and what our style of play has been in recent months.

“Les and the coaches talk a lot about how to be useful to the team and stay useful throughout the game.”

Smith has played more minutes than any other tight forward from the five Australian teams in the competition this season, taking his game tally for Queensland to 57.

“The team has done some pretty cool things in a short period of time and what we are learning under the new coaches is a big part of that,” said 27-year-old Lock

“I definitely feel like I’ve developed my game physically. I’m much more consistent and I’m giving away fewer penalties.”

Kiss had high praise for the pair, saying both players had “certainly caught the eye of the selection committee for higher honors.”

“The qualities we see in ‘Flooky’ come to the fore on and off the pitch. He has excellent timing in attack and defence,” said the Reds coach.

“‘Ryano’ has shown tremendous commitment to us this season. He has been impressive in tight quarters and is a popular character in the locker room.”

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