Flyhalf Jake McIntyre will make his Super Rugby debut this Friday after being named in the Queensland Reds starting side to take on the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium in Ladies Round.
A member of the Reds Elite Development Squad and the starting flyhalf for the majority of Brisbane City’s title run in the inaugural National Rugby Championship, McIntyre’s inclusion is one of two personnel changes and a number of positional shakeups following last week’s loss to the Crusaders. McIntyre had a strong season for Brisbane City in the NRC, but has been unavailable for the majority of the 2015 season due to off-season knee surgery.
In the other personnel change, Karmichael Hunt returns to the starting lineup after overcoming an adductor strain to feature in the centres for the first time this season. He will start at outside centre, with Samu Kerevi shifting to inside centre.
Graham has also shuffled the outside backs, with James O’Connor shifting to fullback and Lachie Turner moving to the wing.
In the reserves, lock Ed O’Donoghue has been named to play in his first match of 2015 after recovering from a knee injury suffered in pre-season. Brothers flyhalf Sam Greene stands to make his Super Rugby debut after being named to the bench. The young pivot featured for Brisbane City in the NRC last year and has been impressive for Brothers in Queensland Premier Rugby this year.
Graham said his side recognised the challenge posed by the Rebels this Friday in what is an important clash for both sides.
“There has been a fair bit of self-review going on this week but as they say, the great thing about sport is there is always next week. We find ourselves playing again this Friday night in what we all realise is a must-win game,” Graham said.
“Jake (McIntyre) and I had a discussion about an opportunity for him a few weeks ago. He had a long stint out following the NRC and just needed some time playing club Rugby. We almost gave him a debut last week but felt it was in his best interests to play 80 minutes more on the weekend for Sunnybank.
“Sam (Greene) is another who was involved in the NRC. On the back of that and his desire to get better, his performances have improved this season. I have received plenty of positive feedback on Sam from our numerous scouts. On top of that, Easts and Reds A coach Tim Sampson further endorsed his performances following their clash in Premier Rugby recently.
“Nick (Frisby) suffered a head knock last week and we won’t know until Thursday if he’ll be cleared to play. We couldn’t prepare as a team under those circumstances. He has been a fantastic contributor to the team over the past two months. He has been unselfish and has demonstrated how quickly he has been able to adapt to a very difficult role. People need to remember that through circumstance he was the sixth-choice flyhalf and in my opinion he has done very well. The consistent time on the field now will benefit him greatly moving forward.
“In these times it is not for the team to expect Jake and Sam to solve our problems. They need to be allowed to perform their own roles and the rest of the team needs step up and give them options and opportunity to do that. Will (Genia) has a big role to play in that department and I know he is determined to help them through their debut.
“Likewise the forwards have challenges in front of them. The physicality and work ethic of the group will need to be at their best as the Rebels have built their success on their forwards towards the latter stages of the competition.
“I have made a number of other changes to the backline. Anthony (Fainga’a) suffered a head knock and is unavailable for selection. In shifting Samu (Kerevi) to inside centre we get a strong ball carrier and big body in a lot of traffic.
“By returning Karmichael (Hunt) to the team at outside centre, we hope to get a little bit more talk and variation in the outside channel. I had always thought that given 10 or 12 games he’d naturally shift forward but we haven’t seen too much of him through circumstance. Given our own circumstance, time is not something we have as a luxury and hence the change.”
The Reds and Rebels have met nine times in Super Rugby, with the Reds winning seven times.
The Reds play the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium this Friday at 7:40pm AEST. Tickets are still available at www.redsrugby.com.au. The match will also be broadcast live on Fox Sports. As part of Ladies Rounds, the Reds will wear specially-designed jerseys featuring the Mater Little Miracles logo in support of the program which supports seriously ill and premature babies at Mater.
While Reds prop Ben Daley will miss the remainder of the season due to a shoulder injury suffered in training two weeks ago, he continues to support various charities through his ‘Be Great, Do Good’ campaign. This week he is supporting Mater Little Miracles. ‘Be Great, Do Good’ is an initiative by Daley, in which he will support a different charity every week through a unique headgear to raise awareness and funds for their cause. Click here for more information.
Queensland Reds team to play Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium
1. James Slipper (C)
2. James Hanson
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons (VC)
5. James Horwill
6. Adam Thomson
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia
10. Jake McIntyre (debut)
11. Lachie Turner
12. Samu Kerevi
13. Karmichael Hunt
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia
15. James O’Connor
16. Andrew Ready
17. Pettowa Paraka
18. Sam Talakai
19. Ed O’Donoghue
20. Lolo Fakaosilea
21. Nick Frisby/Scott Gale
22. Sam Greene (potential debut)
23. Ben Tapuai