Luck has completely deserted the Queensland Reds this season but captain James Slipper senses their fortunes may have finally turned.
Plagued by injuries and suspensions since the start of the year, fate was on Queensland’s side for once in Sunday morning’s nail-biting win over the Cheetahs in South Africa.
A missed penalty in the dying seconds from Joe Pietersen allowed the Reds to escape the match with a 18-17 victory, just their second in what has been a forgettable Super Rugby campaign.
Their next assignment is a daunting one – the top-of-the-table Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.
A few weeks ago the mere thought of that prospect would have shaken the Reds to the core but the weekend’s events have emboldened Slipper with new-found confidence and optimism.
“The way we ended the tour with a win was something that we needed and I think the boys are pretty excited to play in front of our fans,” he said.
“In the past, especially this year, we went into hiding when we had a good lead.
“For us on the weekend we played the full 80 minutes and with that miskick at the end, I think the rugby gods were looking down on us finally and really helped us get over the line.”
If the Reds need any additional motivation against the Hurricanes it will be all around them.
The Queensland Rugby Union is pulling out all the stops for this weekend’s ANZAC Round, teaming up with the Australian Defence Force to commemorate the occasion.
The Reds will wear specially-designed jerseys featuring the ADF’s Rising Sun emblem, which will be auctioned following the game to raise money for the Mates4Mates charity.
There will also be a pre-match march through Caxton Street on Sunday afternoon as well as traditional military displays inside and outside Suncorp Stadium.
“It’s a good way to represent the jersey and have the 100 years of ANZAC history imprinted on the jersey,” said Slipper, whose great-grandfather Daniel Archibald McIntyre from Townsville served in Europe during the First World War.
“Especially playing on Sunday against a New Zealand team, the Hurricanes.
“Knowing these jerseys will help raise money for real heroes in our community just makes it all the more memorable.”