Young half draws line in the sand for Reds
TATE McDermott perfectly sums up the mood of long-suffering Reds fans by saying the time for empty promises is over and only crunch wins matter.
It's not always that the mantra for a pivotal period in Queensland rugby comes from a 20-year-old rookie but take it as an upbeat sign.
If the Reds are to roll the Sunwolves on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium, chances are the livewire little halfback will be a trigger for plenty of the best moments.
McDermott cut through the humdrum words from the 2019 Reds Monday saying exactly how important the next three games are.
Win against the Sunwolves, Melbourne Rebels (May 10) and NSW Waratahs (May 18) or pack it in for the year. Thank you.
"A lot of times this season we've said 'that' performance was the line in the sand," McDermott said.
"We said it in Tokyo (after a 34-31 thriller against the Sunwolves) and before the Rebels game (after a strong 36-14 win over the Brumbies) but haven't actually backed it up.
"This is the line in the sand for us in terms of our season and that win over the Sharks (21-14) has definitely put us in a good place.
"As a young group this is a massive opportunity leading into the Sunwolves, Rebels and the 'Tahs.
"There's something there to be salvaged and we're up for the challenge.
"We've spoken a little about finals but we want to be the team that stops making those promises and actually delivers in this three-week block."
If the Super Rugby Rookie of the Year award was presented today, you'd buy McDermott a dinner suit.
Teammate Lukhan Salakaia-Loto threw out a pranking shout "Wallaby bolter" as he walked by McDermott's media conference at Ballymore yesterday but he's spot on.
On form, McDermott should win a call-up to coach Michael Cheika's first every-child-wins-a-prize camp.
His sharp darts, short passing, balance of running and kicking plus his yapping at the pack are already top quality but he doesn't yet have a Test-class long pass.
Wallabies great-turned-columnist Mark Ella has already pitched him as a must-selection for the World Cup.
McDermott's mum Lexi keeps him level-headed.
"I don't read anything into that stuff and mum always keeps me grounded with family chatter like 'Tate, there's another bloody article about you'," McDermott said.
"I'd be lying if I said I didn't want to eventually play for the Wallabies but you've got your Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Jake Gordon, Joe Powell and even Nic White as a big list of established players playing good footy (at halfback).
"I'm solely concentrating on playing good footy for my state."
Jock Campbell seems certain to start on the wing against the Sunwolves with Jack Hardy heading to surgery for a knee reconstruction.
* Queenslanders Egan Siggs, Michael Wood, Tom Kibble, Byron Ralston, Kye Oates, Isaac Lucas and Joe Cotton will start for the Junior Wallabies against Fiji Under-20s at Bond University on the Gold Coast Tuesday night from 5pm.