James Slipper of the Queensland Reds.
James Slipper of the Queensland Reds. Paul Kane

Bad start the focus for Reds' revival

RUGBY UNION: Skipper James Slipper says overcoming the Reds' slow starts will be key to a strong performance from Queensland against the unbeaten Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium tonight.

Slipper believes the Reds also have addressed the issues that stemmed from what coach Nick Stiles described as an "atrocious" 26-19 loss to the Western Force last week.

"It was very disappointing. The first few days were pretty sobering but we came back and we were worked really hard," Slipper said of the fallout from the defeat in Perth.

"The start of the week, Monday and Tuesday, were pretty tough but we're pretty confident. We had to fix a few things that weren't good enough.

"We are looking to start better this week because the first three games (including the Rebels trial) I think we have conceded a try in the first five minutes."

Slipper said the forwards were disappointed in their part in the side's downfall in Perth, but everyone had worked hard to address those errors.

"As a forward pack we were really disappointed with how our set-piece went last week," he said. "I thought our lineout really struggled and if you look back at the tape a lot of it was just our own fault.

"We're trying to clear that up at training, work hard on that, and the scrum will speak for itself. We are up against a handy scrum, so it's going to be a tough battle."

The Crusaders scored narrow wins over the Brumbies and the Highlanders in the first two rounds and will tonight have the services of former Reds winger Digby Ioane, who will make his debut for the New Zealand franchise.

"It's going to be interesting and a bit odd playing against him, having played with him for a few years," Slipper said of facing his old teammate.

"Hopefully he has a quiet game.

"It's going to be great to see him out there."

Ioane will come face to face with new Reds winger Izaia Perese, one of two Queensland players set for their starting debut.

The other is highly rated lock Izack Rodda, who comes in for benched Wallaby Kane Douglas, while Hendrik Tui is also in the starting line-up.

"It's always nice seeing new blokes coming into the team. They bring enthusiasm," Slipper said.

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