Queensland captain Scott Higginbotham says the Reds won’t be motivated by the chance to ruin the Rebels’ finals hopes at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Higginbotham, a former Rebels captain, would be more than satisfied by pocketing a confidence-boosting win. And keeping all fifteen of his players on the field at the same time.
The last time the Australian conference rivals met in round one, Higginbotham was controversially red-carded for a shoulder and Lukhan Tui was also sin-binned for a lifting tackle.
The Rebels won the game and have pushed on to build their most successful season ever. They have the chance to make their first finals this season.
The Reds, by contrast, have struggled through the year and posted just four wins.
“For the (Rebels) to be able to make the finals, that’s a great achievement,” Higginbotham said.
“In terms of … them needing these wins to make the finals, that’s not a motivation for us.
“The motivation for us is to get one apiece with the same conference team that we lost to at the start of the year. With a red card and a yellow card, it was a disappointing performance and obviously a tough performance. This week we want to keep 15 blokes on the field and get a win. That’s the most important thing for us in the next few weeks, get a win.”
The Reds are keen to finish the season on a winning note, to provide much-needed optimism for the off-season.
The Rebels need at least one more win in their last two games to secure a wildcard spot in the playoffs.
Currently sitting on the mark in eighth, the Rebels play the Reds and then the Highlanders in Dunedin next week. Their main challenger in ninth spot, the Sharks, plays the Stormers away this weekend and the Jaguares at home in the last.
Higginbotham, who spent three seasons in Melbourne between 2013 and 2015, said the Rebels’ success this year after many years of hardship had given him confidence about the trajectory of the young Reds.
“It’s similar to what it is now (in Queensland). There were a lot of young players coming through and there are players who’ve gone onto to really, really good things out of that Rebels side,” Higginbotham said.
“And I see the same thing happening here.
“It’s funny, you go through similar experiences but in difference places and at different times in your career.
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“It’s going to be a great game. I always look forward to playing the Rebels, as I did when I was playing for the Rebels against the Reds.
There’s been not a lot of wins in the second half of the (Reds) season but still good performances and solid performances from guys who are fresh-faced young guys in their first or second years in Super Rugby.
“Obviously that’s disappointing because you want wins on the board but I still think bar one or two games … the performances have been good. They’ve been tough fought.”
The Reds the Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and RUGBY.com.au radio.