Super Rugby
Injured forward Kane Douglas backs rookie Reds to perform
Brittany Mitchell
February 22, 2016
Queensland Reds celebrate
Queensland Reds celebrate© (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

Injured Wallabies forward Kane Douglas is confident a young Reds side can step up and perform in Super Rugby, despite the loss of big-names stars Quade Cooper, Will Genia and James Horwill.

Spending the off-season on the sidelines after knee surgery, Douglas has had plenty of time to watch the rookies train, and has been impressed by their enthusiasm and work ethic.

"There are a few good young guys coming through," Douglas said. "It's a very young team, which is sort of good; everyone is pretty enthusiastic and pretty keen on ripping in each day at training.

"There are some big, young guys, a heap of guys still under 20; so there's a good future there if you can hold onto some of those players. It should be interesting to see how we go on the weekend, all the boys have been training hard and are ready to go."

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Young halves Nick Frisby and Jake McIntyre have been given the unenviable job of replacing Genia and Cooper, but Douglas has given both players the green light after their pre-season performances.

"Nick Frisby is a pretty good leader there at half-back and Jake McIntyre is only going to keep improving -- he's going great guns there," Douglas said

"Karmichael's [Hunt] looking good and [Ayumu] Goromaru's come in; I'm not sure how they're going to play them. There are some exciting guys there, but it's just about gelling together and they've been working on that. Things may take time, but they're definitely improving; so there are some good signs early."

While Douglas was to one of the Reds' starting locks, fellow off-season recruits Cadeyrn Neville and Ben Matwijow are now likely to be the second-row pairing.

Former Rebels lock Neville and Matwijow, who impressed with Canterbury in the ITM Cup, both have plenty of experience and Douglas is confident they can combine strongly in the tight five.

"I think they'll go really well," he said. "Cadeyrn's a big guy, he's a bit heavier than I am, he's fit and strong and powerful; so I'm sure he'll go good.

"Ben he's a couple years younger than me I think, and he's a pretty smart rugby player, so it'll be interesting to see how they go.

"It'll be weird for me watching; it's weird coming into a new team and going straight into the injured group. But I'll be pretty keen to watch on Saturday."

© Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Away from the pack, it's the Reds' overseas recruit, Ayumu Goromaru, who is garnering the majority of attention.

"He's [Goromaru] brought a lot of fans, a new little demographic of fans coming to the game," Douglas said of the star Japanese full-back.

"There were a lot of Japanese people at the fan day the other day; I think he's a fairly big celebrity over there.

"Even if some of the people don't know too much about rugby, they want to come and watch Goromaru play. He's a certified ninja and he's got a gold statue of him in Japan somewhere.

It's good to have someone who's had such different experiences in the team; I'm sure we can only benefit from having him in the team."

After a disappointing 2015 season, which saw the Reds win just four games and finish 13th on the table, the side will be under immense pressure to perform in 2016.

Pre-season losses to the Crusaders (31-3) and Brumbies (31-18), have done little to suggest they're capable of turning things around; but Douglas said there were enough positive signs to give the Reds something to build from for this week's regular-season opener against the Waratahs.

"I think they're just trials and you can put them aside," he said. "I think we showed some really good things in some of those trials. But that's what they're there for, to iron out some creases and to have a look at some new guys.

"There were some really good signs in there, we were pretty good at the set-piece; lineout and scrums were good. Some good positive signs there it's just about tying all those things together, work on the little things. I think we can be pretty good, it's just about improving every day and (trying to) become better footy players for the supporters."

© Brittany Mitchell

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