Rescuing the Reds

Drew Mitchell doesn’t take life too seriously. “You are where you are for a reason so you might as well have fun,” says the 21-year-old who burst onto the scene last year.

Joint winner of the Australian Super 12 Rookie of the Year award in 2004, Mitchell then captained his country at the U21 World Championships in Scotland before being selected for the Wallabies’ end-of-year tour to Europe, where he was an unused replacement against England.

The Reds winger has a positive attitude to life, which is probably why he was able to deliver consistently good performances last year despite the Wallabies’ horror run.

After another good Vodacom Super 12 for the Reds, Mitchell made his debut as a replacement against the Boks in the first Mandela Challenge Test in Sydney and scored a memorable try. “I was really nervous before the Bok game,” he told the media. “When the chance came, nothing was going to get the ball out of my hands. Fortunately I scored, because I wasn’t going to pass!’

Mitchell grabbed another five-pointer in his first Wallaby start against the All Blacks in the Tri-Nations and from then on he was a regular in the side. On the Wallabies’ disastrous 2005 end-of-year tour he grabbed his first double against Ireland in Dublin, to go with tries against France and England.
“At the start of last year all I wanted was my first Test cap, so things came a bit earlier than I expected,” says Mitchell. “Because I achieved so much, it’s going to be difficult for me to do better this year, but that’s the challenge for me.”

Mitchell may struggle to get better, at least while he’s with the Reds in the Vodacom Super 14. The Queenslanders have struggled in recent years and when coach Jeff Miller was told that his services would no longer be required from 2006, team morale was at all-time low.

While the Reds were narrowly beaten in their Super 14 opener against the Waratahs in Brisbane, they are still among the favourites to finish last. Mitchell, however, was feeling good when the tournament kicked off in early February.

“It’s pretty important to get away from it all, otherwise it tends to be a long year,” he says. “I went to Fiji for a week, came back and spent a week at the Gold Coast and then a week in New Zealand when my brother got married. By the time I arrived back at training, I was raring to go. The Reds gave a gusty effort against the Waratahs and hopefully that’s a sign of things to come.”