From the high of toppling the defending champion Highlanders, the Queensland Reds are wary of crashing back to earth on Super Rugby’s most daunting road trip.
The rejuvenated Reds take on the Bulls on Sunday morning (AEST), ambitiously seeking to follow their drought-breaking victory in Brisbane with a first win in Pretoria in 15 years.
But even – or especially – at altitude, level-headed halfback Nic Frisby knows the Reds must stay grounded or run the risk of being stampeded like so many times before.
“It’s been a long time between drinks and there’s a few guys in this squad who have been on the receiving end of a couple of hidings here,” Frisby said.
“But while it’s an intimidating stat, it’s a really exciting opportunity for this young squad to hopefully come out here and try to break that hoodoo.”
The Bulls are riding a three-game winning streak but are an even more formidable opposition at home.
“It’s definitely a different place to play,” Frisby said.
“The Bulls at Loftus is probably one of the hardest assignments in Super Rugby so the preparation is key.
“You don’t want to go to Loftus with any doubts in your mind at all because they will be exposed.
“And obviously altitude’s a factor when you come to South Africa. It can be quite tough to deal with but you’ve got to put it to the back of your mind.”
Queensland’s back three in particular are sure to come under pressure as high balls hang in the air seemingly forever and the ability of fullback Karmichael Hunt and wingers Chris Feauai-Sautia and Eto Nabuli to cope with the Bulls’ aerial bombardment will be key.
“They’ve got to be on their toes,” Frisby said.
“They’ve also got to cover the long kick. So it’s a challenge and something we’ll have to be aware of.”
“And obviously you know when you play the Bulls they’re going to be big and physical. That’s their strength. They love the maul, they love the contestable kicks.
“But our forwards will front up and deal with the big boys and stop their maul and hopefully our back three will nullify their kicking threats.”