Championship or bust. That is the simple equation for the Reds in 2021 as they kick off against the Waratahs.

Championship or bust.

According to Queensland legend Tim Horan that is the simple equation for the Reds in 2021 as they prepare to kick off their Super Rugby AU campaign against the Waratahs on Friday night.

Horan told Wide World of Sports that the defending champion Brumbies deserved to be considered slight favourites ahead of the Reds but that the only way Brad Thorn’s side could deem the season a success is by holding some silverware aloft at the end of it.

“You’d still think the Brumbies are the team to beat because what Dan McKellar’s had there the last couple of years, they’ve got a really strong foundation to build from,” said Horan, who will call the action for Nine and Stan Sport.

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“But I think the Reds this year, they made a good move last year, went very close to winning that final but I think this year you’ve really got to put your foot down.

“This is the year. And not just in Super Rugby AU but then the trans-Tasman competition. I don’t think they’ll go in as favourites but they won’t be far behind the Brumbies.”

While the Brumbies are also listed favourites with the bookmakers, many pundits are tipping the Reds to continue their upward trajectory and restore some rugby glory to Suncorp Stadium.

Horan didn’t think that external pressure and expectation would prove a burden for a Reds side that has grown up together.

“I think they’ve handled it pretty well in the last couple of years now,” Horan said.

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“The domestic comp really suited the Queensland Reds last year because they were winning more games which built confidence amongst a younger group. They’re still a youngish team but they’re very experienced now.

“I know that Brad doesn’t like to use the young tag but you look at Tate McDermott, a couple of players and that second year syndrome – you’ve got to make something happen. Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight – those two players, great first years and now in the second year can you back it up and go up a couple of notches.

“I think both players can. So that’s important, Hunter Paisami is going to be a lot better in his second year, I think he’ll have to adapt his game a little bit as well.”

Horan was also expecting big things from Reds prop Taniela Tupou, who will be eased in from the bench in round one against the Waratahs.

“He came a long way last year and he’s going to be someone that kids can look up to and idolise,” Horan said.

“That’s what the sport needs now. Because there’s always a big exodus after World Cups – you lose your Will Genias, your Quade Coopers, your Bernard Foleys, your Samu Kerevis. We had a massive exodus of players that kids knew and obviously no Michael Hooper in Super Rugby. So it’s an opportunity this year for players to stand out.”

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