Queensland Reds head coach Richard Graham has named a 27-man squad for its two-week tour of South Africa.
The squad departs from Sydney today for the tour and will face the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday 11 April at 11:00pm (AEST) and the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday 19 April at 3:10am (AEST).
The squad features all but three of the players that lost to the Rebels in Melbourne on Friday night, along with Adam Korczyk, Campbell Magnay, Tom Murday, Rob Simmons, Sam Talakai and Ben Tapuai, James Tuttle.
Tuttle, a member of the Reds Elite Development Squad (EDS), has been brought in as cover for Quade Cooper, who fractured his scapula against the Rebels. Korczyk, also a member of the Reds EDS is a replacement for Jake Schatz, who ruptured a tendon in his elbow in the same match.
Murday, who made his Reds debut earlier this year, has been brought in for lock James Horwill – who has been suspended for one week following a red card for striking a Rebels player on Friday night.
Reds head coach Richard said: “As I said yesterday, it’s disappointing to lose Jake and Quade to injury, but we have had a number of young players gain experience early on in our Super Rugby campaign and are confident they are capable of delivering what we need on this tour.
“Adam (Korczyk), James (Tuttle) and Tom (Murday) have been training with the main squad throughout the season and have benefitted from being around the group. They are young, but have been impressive and certainly deserve this opportunity.
“With such a short turnaround between Friday’s game and our trip to Johannesburg, it was important to make quick decisions around who we need in the squad – so we could get straight into uninterrupted preparation for next week’s clash against the Bulls. For that reason, I thought it was important to bring in cover for James Horwill for at least the first week of the tour as we need a full compliment of players to select from.”
Simmons is in line to play his first game of the 2015 season, after successfully recovering from a shoulder injury in time to be available for selection for both games in South Africa.
Graham said it was pleasing to finally welcome Simmons into the full team environment, after a difficult and lengthy layoff with injury.
“It has been a frustrating injury for Rob. He hasn’t played a game now since late November last year. The nature of nerve injuries is that putting a timeline on their recovery can prove difficult. The staff and he have worked together very well to ensure they get the process right and Rob can return confident in his body,” Graham said.
“He has trained fully with the team for some time now. He is bouncing around and looks fresh having had an enforced spell from the week in, week out nature of the game.
“We fly to Sydney today following the team’s recovery and medicals. Sam, Rob, Ben and Campbell will join us at the airport before transferring together to the Sydney International where we spend the night.
“We are away for three games, which is a little unusual for Australian sides so the squad get an opportunity to spend some time with family and friends tonight for Easter if they choose before we fly out tomorrow.
“The team are looking forward to spending the next two weeks together on the road. We have set ourselves some challenges and are hungry to achieve those in South Africa.”
St.George Queensland Reds squad for two-week tour of South Africa
James Slipper (C)