AS THE Queensland Reds wait to see who will be fit for their Super 15 semi-final at Suncorp Stadium on July 2, former Ipswich Grammar School student Rod Davies is grateful he is not one of the doubtful ones.
Davies' 80-minute performance on the left wing in the Reds' 19-11 victory over the Chiefs on Saturday, which guaranteed them the minor premiership, was his first since injuring his knee against the Waratahs on April 23.
His comeback against the Western Force on June 11 only lasted 15 minutes before he was replaced with an injured shoulder.
“It wasn't good,” Davies said of his fears when he hurt the shoulder.
“I've had a reconstruction on that shoulder before. I feared the worst but a couple of hours after the game it wasn't too bad.”
Davies showed no ill effects against the Chiefs, running with gusto each every time he got the ball and in one move slipping a flick pass to keep play going.
“I've got all the confidence in the world,” he said.
“Obviously my fitness is not where it was but that's only going to get better.”
The Reds will go into their semi-final, with their opponent to be determined this weekend, also full of confidence.
They will welcome back winger Digby Ioane and flanker Beau Robinson but will be without prop James Slipper, who injured his ankle against the Chiefs.
But this season has proved whoever the Reds call upon will be up to the task.
The team that played the Chiefs included Ben Tapuai, Will Chambers, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz, Dominic Shipperley and Jono Lance – none of whom were in the team at the start of the season.
Yet the Reds have still been able to win, finishing the minor premiership with one more win than nearest rival the Stormers.
“The new guys really put their hands up,” Davies said.
One of the most impressive was 18-year-old Liam Gill, who was brought in to replace Robinson at openside flanker.
Robinson himself had come from nowhere this season, joining the Reds without a contract and working at Goodna's Irish Heart Hotel to pay the bills.
McKenzie put his faith in Robinson and was rewarded with outstanding performances before he got injured.
Now Gill has further proved how astute a judge of a rugby player McKenzie is.
“Gilly was probably the best on the field that night,” Davies said.
“It will cause some selection headaches for the semi-final with Beau back from injury.”
It was a similar situation with the unheralded Tapuai, who kept Chambers out of the team for most of the season, before injury to Anthony Fainga'a gave Chambers another chance.
With players coming back and an extra week to work on things Davies in confident the Reds will be primed when they host the semi-final.
“There are still a few things to work on, I guess,” Davies said.
“We dropped a lot of ball (against the Chiefs) even though it was wet.
“But we'll be prepared for anyone, the Waratahs, Blues or Stormers.”
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.