Departing Queensland Reds star Liam Gill says his young teammates must heed the lessons of a horror fortnight or face yet another barren year in Super Rugby.
The Reds were beaten 31-28 by the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night, unable to provide Gill, Greg Holmes and a number of other players who were playing their last game for the club with a winning farewell.
Gill, who was acting as captain in the absence of James Slipper (sternum), slammed Queensland’s first-half performance as the worst 40 minutes of football he’s ever been involved in.
Just like in the 50-5 belting against the Chiefs a week earlier, the Reds were shellshocked after conceding a try in the opening seconds of the match and were so bad defensively, they can count themselves as fortunate to have only gone into the half-time break down 24-7.
While the second half was vastly improved, Gill said those set to take the baton from the stalwarts who are leaving the Reds need to realise they can’t afford to keep playing as they have.
“There’s been a couple of stern lessons in the last two weeks,” said Gill, who has signed for French Top 14 club Toulon.
“We’ve got a lot of young players in the squad so the best thing they can do is learn from it, but not forget what’s happened.
“The last 40 minutes summed up how we want to play.
“Hopefully they figure out how to get there so they can move forward.
“If they don’t it’s going to be another ugly season, but I have faith if they put their head to it and front up, we showed what we can do – we can put points on a good defending team.”
The injection of Taniela Tupou, Campbell Magnay and Lukhan Tui – arguably the three best young players coming through at Ballymore – in the second half helped change the game, which Exeter-bound prop Holmes said was a sign of the calibre of talent the Reds now have at their disposal.
“It hurts, I really wanted to win and the team wanted to finish the season well, but in my bigger scheme of things… that’s the way footy goes,” he said.
“I think the Reds are looking good for years to come.”