Reds' Daley aims to start season wearing coveted jersey
WITH the slate having been wiped clean, Reds front-rower Ben Daley does not shy away when asked what he wants from 2013 - his No.1 jersey back.
Rewind 12 months and Daley was riding the crest of the wave of the Reds' Super Rugby championship win in 2011, established as the team's first-pick loosehead prop.
By the close of the 2012 season, however, he had been eclipsed by Greg Holmes.
While Daley brought up his 50th Reds appearance in the last game of the regular season, bringing some cause for celebration last year, he did so from the bench.
Asked about his personal aspirations for the season ahead, his sentiments echo the high standards the Reds have set for themselves.
He describes the side's semi-final exit against the Sharks last year as "disappointing", the same word he uses in reference to his season.
For Daley, the Reds' trial game against the Chiefs at Stockland Sunshine Coast Stadium early next month could be key in his battle to wrest back a starting spot.
"You feel the competition for places," he told the Daily when asked about the pre-season.
"It's a new season and the slate's wiped clean - no matter what's happened the previous years.
"All the guys are an equal chance and that's what (coach) Ewen's (McKenzie) instilled in the squad and that's why we've been successful the last few years.
"During pre-season, training becomes intense. For me personally, last year was pretty disappointing with injury and things like that.
"I couldn't get any momentum going. I dislocated my AC joint and tore my hamstring and tore ligaments in my thumb.
"All those things conspired for me to lose my momentum.
"So obviously I'll be looking to give it a good crack and make that starting side."
Daley will have to bounce back quickly, however, having strained a calf muscle at training yesterday.
>> GAME DAY
REDS v CHIEFS
Friday, February 8,
Stockland Sunshine Coast