Reds-Brumbies friction at Wallabies camp
April 16, 2013
Christian Lealiifano poses for a photo at the recent Wallabies logistics camp in Sydney © Getty Images
Not even a neutral Wallabies camp could hide hostilities between Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies ahead of their pivotal Super Rugby derby at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.
However, there was not much love from the remaining 11-strong ACT contingent at the camp before the table-topping Brumbies take on the second-placed Reds in Brisbane.
There was no shortage of motivation ahead of the Rod Macqueen Cup clash after the Reds appeared miffed that only seven players received a Wallabies camp call-up - four less than the Brumbies.
Even Reds head coach Richard Graham on Tuesday conceded his side had not received much credit for their impressive run which included last round's upset win over the defending champion Chiefs in Hamilton.
But the rivalry looks set to go up a notch after Tapuai reported back to the Reds camp following a tense Wallabies camp stay.
"I went into camp yesterday and it was a bit awkward with the Brumbies boys there," Tapuai said. "There was a bit of tension there. But we know if we keep improving there could be more Reds in the Wallabies (squad)."
Tapuai gushed about the form of Lealiifano, a former Melbourne rugby club foe who kept his chances of snapping up the Wallabies No.10 jersey for the British and Irish Lions series with his Sydney camp invitation.
However, nothing would make him happier to see his old friend on the losing side this weekend - especially after the Brumbies inflicted a convincing 24-6 opening round loss.
"There's definitely a rivalry between us," Tapuai said. "If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best. We have to be more physical. We tried that in the first game but they out-enthused us. But we have moved forward since then - we are ready to rock and roll."
Graham was at a loss as to why the Reds had not turned more heads until their upset over the Chiefs. But there will be no avoiding the spotlight if they earn top spot in the Australian conference with a weekend win.
"For whatever reason, the Reds have not received a lot of credit over the last 10 or so weeks," Graham said. "But I think our form has been getting better."
"We have improved a lot since we played them (ACT) 10 rounds ago and we go in with a lot of confidence on the back of the weekend win," Graham added. "This gives you bragging rights at the top of the conference."