The Queensland Reds know what’s coming on Saturday night – it’s a blueprint their own coaches devised at the Western Force.
But overcoming the Force’s off-the-ball attacks on Will Genia will be another matter entirely in their Suncorp Stadium grudge match.
The Perth-based outfit return to the scene of their best victory of a difficult 2013 looking for a club record fourth straight win.
The Force drove Genia beyond distraction with brazen tactics in the 19-12 upset to take him out after he passed from each ruck, meaning he struggled to get to the next and unable to probe and spark his side’s attack.
With Quade Cooper getting slow ball, he and the Queensland backline were easy pickings for their rush defence – which also forced a return 11-11 draw at nib Stadium.
Despite SANZAR wanting to crack down on off-the-ball play, the Force will dust off the tactics again, even if coach Michael Foley attributed it to his former assistant, Nick Stiles, who is now at the Reds.
“Will and Quade are the best nine and 10 in the competition and if you don’t shut them down then they’re obviously going to play well,” coach Michael Foley said.
“I thought Stilesy’s tactic last year of trying to get to Will was a good one but he’s not with us anymore so what we have to do is make sure our defensive system is right.”
Putting extra spice into a spirited derby clash is that the entire Queensland coaching team – Richard Graham and assistants Stiles and Steve Meehan – were all in the Force box in the past two years.
“I’m sure that’s extra motivation for them,” Graham admitted.
Graham was under John Mitchell at the Force from 2010, when Genia and Cooper first flourished as a halves pairing, and he says “the blueprint” still remains the same.
“So I don’t think what they’re going to do will surprise us,” he said.
“It’s how we handle it that’s going to be important.”
Reds hooker James Hanson stressed it was up to the Queensland forwards to muscle up at the breakdown to clean out any Genia harassers.
Not only are the Force an improved defensive team this year – keeping the defending champion Chiefs tryless in their last start – their attack is now threatening as well with halfback Alby Mathewson given more support.
They were the worst in the competition in 2013 with just 26 tries from 16 games, but have 14 from five already.
“It doesn’t mean anything beyond this point but it’s nice that we can score tries in different ways,” Foley said.