St.George Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill stands to earn his 50th Queensland cap from the bench this weekend, after being released from Australian Sevens camp to take on the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.
If he takes the field, Gill will become the fifth player to reach his 50th Queensland cap this season, along with the 100-cap milestones achieved by captain James Horwill, vice-captain Will Genia and playmaker Quade Cooper.
Gill has been training with the Australian Sevens squad in preparation for the Commonwealth Games, but has been named in the Reds’ reserves after dialogue between head coach Richard Graham and Sevens coach Geraint John.
Graham welcomed Gill’s return to the Reds for their final match of the season, which promises to be an engaging clash between the two oldest rivals in Australian Rugby.
“Getting Gilly back from the Australian Sevens program is a significant boost to the squad,” Graham said.
“He is class footballer and his desire to play for the Reds illustrates how much the playing group care. He understands the risks associated, but is willing to accept those in order to play for the Reds.
“I would like to thank Geraint John (Australian Sevens Head Coach) for his support in this matter. Geraint has been outstanding to deal with and I wish him well in the upcoming Commonwealth Games.
“Whether it is Rugby, cricket or league, Queensland versus New South Wales is still the greatest of rivalries.
“We have 50,000-plus members and another four and a half million people north of the border who want to see the team do well. Regardless of positions on the table, the squad is determined to finish the season strongly.”
Graham has made two changes to his starting XV for his team’s final match.
Injury has forced one change, with a broken jaw to Nick Frisby presenting an opportunity for Scott Gale to start his first match for the Reds. The other change sees Greg Holmes return to the starting lineup in place of Ben Daley. Holmes missed last weekend with a knee complaint.
The replacements bench features the return of Gill along with the potential for Extended Playing Squad member Chris Kuridrani to make his debut for Queensland.
“Scotty (Gale) did well in his limited time last weekend,” Graham said.
“He has been around the program since October in the Wider Training Squad or Under 20s and has a strong understanding of how we want to play the game. More importantly he has the confidence and support of his teammates.
“Chris (Kuridrani) comes onto the bench as cover for the back three. After a disrupted period with injury, he has worked hard to get back on the field and prove his qualities here amongst our squad and at club Rugby. He is a big lad and will do everything at 100 kilometres an hour if he gets the opportunity.”
Graham also commended the input of outside centre Samu Kerevi last weekend, who has been named in the starting lineup for only the second time.
“Samu (Kerevi) played very well last week in his run on debut. He has probably surprised us a bit in how well he has transitioned to this level of Rugby so quickly. We know he has the physical capabilities and this will be a great test for him against New South Wales.”
Graham’s selection options continue to be limited by injury, with squad members Quade Cooper (shoulder/hip), Blake Enever (bicep), Anthony Fainga’a (calf), Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder), Nick Frisby (jaw), Will Genia (ankle), Eddie Quirk (knee), Dom Shipperley (ankle) and Aidan Toua (pectoral/hamstring) all unavailable.
The Reds will wear a specially-designed Heritage Round jersey, with the names of thousands of Reds members and fans printed onto the playing shirts. In order to have their names printed on this unique, one-of-a-kind jersey, members and fans made donations toward the ongoing fundraising efforts for Queensland Rugby’s SCRUM Monument.
The SCRUM is an architectural structure which will be built at Suncorp Stadium to celebrate Queensland’s rich 131-year Rugby history and will become a focal point for Rugby fans, symbolising the strength, scale and reach of the code in this state.
The Queensland-New South Wales rivalry is the oldest in Australian Rugby, with their first-ever match occurring in 1882.
Saturday’s game is the 304th time the Reds and Waratahs have squared off. New South Wales has won 187 and Queensland 98 with 18 games being drawn.
Since the inception of Super Rugby in 1996, the sides have met 21 times. In that time, Queensland has won 13, lost seven and drawn one.
The Reds face the Waratahs this Saturday, 12 July, at 7:40pm in their final match of the 2014 season.
St.George Queensland Reds team to play Waratahs
1. James Slipper
2. James Hanson
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (C)
6. Curtis Browning
7. Beau Robinson
8. Jake Schatz
9. Scott Gale (run-on debut)
10. Ben Lucas
11. Lachie Turner
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Samu Kerevi
14. Rod Davies
15. Mike Harris
16. Saia Fainga’a
17. Ben Daley
18. Albert Anae
19. Dave McDuling
20. Liam Gill (potential 50th Queensland cap)
21. Sam Johnson
22. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
23. Chris Kuridrani (potential debut)
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