St.George Queensland Reds head coach Richard Graham has named an unchanged side to take on the Waratahs in Sydney this weekend.
Graham said he wanted to reward the 23-man squad that secured a 27-17 win over the Brumbies in their opening match of the 2014 Asteron Life Super Rugby season.
“We needed to start the season strongly. We have a number of away games to begin our campaign and, as a group, we understand the significance of beginning with a win,” Graham said.
“That being said, I thought it was important for us to recognise their efforts and give the same 23 another opportunity against the Waratahs.”
“Michael Cheika wants to base a large part of their game play on a physical and abrasive style. However, we expect them to try to challenge us and throw the ball around as well,” Graham said.
With the oldest rivalry in Australian Rugby and the Templeton Cup on the line this weekend, Graham said his players had all the motivation they needed to notch their second win of the season.
“There’s massive history between these two teams and our players love the rivalry,” Graham said.
“We’ve won the Templeton Cup in our last five encounters and that is something that the playing group is hugely proud of. They also understand what it means to Queensland Rugby and the players who have gone before them.”
This weekend’s match sees the potential for Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper to break the existing points-scoring record for a Reds player in Super Rugby.
The record is currently held by Elton Flatley, who scored 629 points in 86 Super Rugby appearances. Cooper currently sits on 620 points scored in 89 Super Rugby appearances.
This is not to be confused with the overall points-scoring record for Queensland prior to the inception of Super Rugby, which is held by Michael Lynagh on 1,166 points.
The Reds A team has also been named for its clash with Fiji Warriors in the Pacific Rugby Cup this weekend, with eight members of the Reds main squad named in the starting lineup.
The match will feature Ben Lucas in his first game of the season, alongside full squad members Albert Anae, Dave McDuling, Blake Enever, Curtis Browning, Chris Kuridrani, Rod Davies and Jamie-Jerry Taulagi.
The team is rounded out by members of the Reds’ Wider Training Squad (WTS) and Reds Under-20 program.
Graham said the talent within the Reds A team was a positive sign for the program.
“While we’ve selected the same team from last weekend to play the Waratahs, a number of the squad currently playing in the Reds A side are pushing for position in the Reds Match Day squad and also our upcoming tour to Africa,” Graham said.
“That depth and competition is critical to ensuring a high quality training environment which ultimately brings the best out in everyone.”
The Reds face the Waratahs at ANZ Stadium in Sydney this Saturday, 1 March, at 7:40pm (local time).
St.George Queensland Reds v Waratahs (Sydney)
1. James Slipper
2. Saia Fainga’a
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (C)
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (VC)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Dom Shipperley
12. Mike Harris
13. Ben Tapuai
14. Lachie Turner
15. Aidan Toua