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Reds cook up response to Force’s ‘must-win’ mentality

Forty-eight eggs, 2kg of steak, just as much chicken, bacon and a pot of rice always boiling on the stove.

It’s a glimpse at the week in dietary requirements of Queensland Reds housemates Zane Nonggorr and George Blake, the Gold Coast schoolmates who this week both confirmed two-year extensions to remain at Ballymore until 2026.

Test prop Nonggorr, still just 23, lets the 22-year-old Blake do most of the cooking.

Add that to the summary of a man able to play both hooker and prop at the elite level.

“It gets up there,” Nonggorr said of the grocery bill.

“But Tonga’s (Blake) probably a better cook than I am. He eats more though, so it makes sense.”

Nonggor will start on the bench against the Western Force in the Reds’ last Suncorp Stadium clash of the season on Saturday, Blake dropping out of the side due to the return of rested Test hooker Matt Faessler.

Victory in the penultimate regular-season round for the hosts would lock up fifth spot and a quarter-final against New Zealand’s Chiefs in Hamilton.

And it would leave the Force’s hopes of a top-eight finish and finals appearance hanging by a thread, Simon Cron’s side notching vital back-to-back wins but still two points behind Fijian Drua.

A loss would leave the Force needing to beat the Brumbies in the final round, and the eight-placed Drua to drop their final two games, to jump into the eight.

“We have probably been in must-win territory for the last two or three weeks,” Cron said.

“So it’s the same mindset; the boys know it, we all know it.”

“The Reds, they’re a good side with some good results this year and they’ll come out firing.”

The Force played some of their best attacking rugby in a 40-31 defeat of the Reds at home that snapped a four-game losing streak to begin the season and severely dented the Reds’ hopes of a top-four finish.

“There’s a lot to learn from that game,” Nonggorr said.

“How they play and how we can improve our defense; we need to work harder to counter that expansive game. It’s all eyes ahead of Saturday.”

Fullback Kurtley Beale will play for the Force after the mid-week birth of his second child while Tom Lynagh (hamstring) is back from an injury lay-off to wear the Reds’ No.10.

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