Reds target win over Chiefs to kickstart season

JIM MORTON
Last updated 18:50 07/02/2013

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Super Rugby

Super Rugby will miss All Blacks for first round Dave Rennie on the hunt for another halfback Chiefs snap up Bryce Heem and Sean Polwart Move to Taranaki pays off for Iopu-Aso Chiefs add two forwards to Super Rugby squad Chiefs grab Seta Tamanivalu, Mitchell Graham Kiwi talent features in new-look Samoan squad Graham returning to Chiefs as props recruited David Hill recruited to coach the Blues' backs Blues hire former All Black as backs coach

Surprised captain James Slipper believes a final trial success over a star-studded Chiefs outfit will give Queensland a major springboard into the Super Rugby season.

The 2011 champions will clash with the 2012 champions when the Reds line up against the Waikato-based side at Sunshine Coast's Stockland Stadium on Friday night.

Queensland enjoyed a 41-35 pre-season win over the Blues in Toowoomba last weekend but Slipper said defeating the Chiefs would be a better barometer to the Reds' form heading into round one.

The Chiefs will be at near full strength and feature All Blacks Aaron Cruden, Brodie Retallick, Sam Cane and Liam Messam.

"We're talking about the defending champions and they have a lot of class right across their team," the 34-test Wallabies prop said. "A win will definitely put us in good stead for the season."

Slipper has emerged as a left-field captaincy candidate for the Super Rugby season-opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday week after taking the reins from injured skipper James Horwill against the Chiefs.

It appears the 23-year-old and centre Anthony Faingaa are the frontrunners for the job if Horwill can't recover from an ankle injury he suffered in training on Tuesday.

Faingaa, who led the Reds against the Blues, will miss the second trial with a hand injury but director of coaching Ewen McKenzie says Slipper is a genuine captaincy contender.

"He plays from in front and he leads by example," McKenzie said.

"He had a great season in 2012, he finished with player's player (Stan Pilecki Medal) so there's no reason we can't grow him in other capacities."

Slipper, who captained The Southport School to a Queensland GPS premiership in 2007, said McKenzie's choice was a massive shock.

"It's a pretty big deal for me," he said. "It's a huge honour.

"I've never really thought about being a captain." 

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