Prop Ruan Smith says an opening round Super Rugby bye will be no impediment for a Reds team determined not to break momentum as it searches for a first finals campaign since 2013.
Smith, who played 11 games for the Reds after joining the club last season, backed coach Brad Thorn’s finals ambition despite the relative inexperience of much of the squad.
“Our expectations is to play finals,” he said.
“If that’s not what we want to do, we’re not at the right place.
“We want to play finals, we want to do the best we can.”
The Reds lost their opening trial of the season on Friday night to a Rebels try after the siren but Smith said there were plenty of positives to come out of the match.
“We went into the game just to focus on our stuff – our set piece and our attack and our defence – we didn’t really focus on them much,” he said.
“But this week it will be a different challenge with the Chiefs, I think, where we’ll play what we want to do leading into the comp.
“It’ll be a tough challenge against the Chiefs playing running rugby but we’re excited for the challenge.”
Queensland’s Wallaby representatives will join the fray for this week’s clash at Ballymore, their final hitout ahead of their round two Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders in Dunedin on February 22.
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“I don’t think (opening the season with a bye) will be a disadvantage,” Smith said.
“Obviously once you start playing footy you want to continue playing, you want to keep the momentum going but we’ll have that extra week to fine tune things.
“The boys will be pretty sore after that (Chiefs clash), so we’ll have that extra week to rest up and be ready for round two.”
The Reds take on the Chiefs at Ballymore on Friday February 8, kicking off at 7pm local, 8pm AEDT.