James Slipper is optimistic the latest Queensland Reds bloodbath at Suncorp Stadium will be the last one for a while.
The Reds were thrashed 50-5 by Super Rugby title favourites the Chiefs on Friday night and have just one more game – against the battling Melbourne Rebels at home next weekend – until another disastrous season lurches to a close.
The ruthless Chiefs ran in eight tries to one, feasting on the mistakes and fumbles of an inexperienced, injury-depleted Reds outfit that had lost Greg Holmes (neck) before kick-off and Slipper (chest) in the first half.
The 18,129 crowd had seen it all before – but the hope is things will change for the better in 2017.
That’s when incoming recruits Stephen Moore, George Smith and possibly Quade Cooper will join recent arrivals Leroy Houston, Kane Douglas and Caleb Timu, and together with the imminent appointment of a new head coach, should put Queensland on track to becoming a contender once again.
Slipper, who will be fit to face the Rebels despite his early withdrawal, said he was tired of losing at home.
“Of course I’m sick of it. I was sick of it after the first one,” he said.
“One thing I do know is the boys in that shed, the intent to work is there. It’s just the finer details that are letting us down.
“I’m confident (in) the players we’re putting together and the squad that we’re building, I think there’s a lot of growth there, a lot of experience coming in next year and we’ll have a clear direction of where we want to go.”
Interim co-coach Matt O’Connor wouldn’t be drawn on whether the result – the biggest win by the Chiefs in franchise history – would damage his or Nick Stiles’ chances of staying on full-time.
“The decision-makers will make the decision they see fit, relative to taking the team forward. That’s not anything I can control,” he said.
Nor could the Reds control the Chiefs, who dazzled with their flashy phase play and chains of offloads that opened up ample space to attack.
“They isolate defenders, play out of the tackle and shift the ball to space,” O’Connor said.
“They’re the best in the competition at winning the collision, and it’s not by running into people and steamrolling blokes out of the way – it’s quite subtle and it’s very hard to deal with, and we knew that going in.
“The rugby that the New Zealand conference is playing is different to everyone else, and we’ve got to catch up, and catch up quick.”