St George Queensland Reds flanker Curtis Browning will make his run-on debut for Queensland this Sunday, in one of six changes to the starting lineup to face the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium.
Browning, a former Australian Under-20 captain, has already played five games for the Reds, but never in the starting lineup. He will start at blindside flanker, in place of injured loose forward Eddie Quirk.
Also in the forwards, Ben Daley earns his third start of the season, replacing suspended prop James Slipper at loosehead. James Hanson will start ahead of Saia Fainga’a at hooker and Beau Robinson returns to starting openside for injured Liam Gill.
There are two changes to the backline that faced the Blues in Auckland last weekend. Dom Shipperley replaces injured Chris Feauai-Sautia on the wing. This will be Shipperley’s first match since injuring his hip flexor against the Stormers in Round 7. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi returns to the starting lineup, with Rod Davies moved to the reserves bench.
Reds utility front rower Albert Anae returns to the 23 to cover prop, while Dave McDuling has been presented another opportunity to make his debut for Queensland after being named in a replacement back row slot.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said while some of the changes were forced, he was confident in the team and their ability to get the job done on Sunday.
“Some of the changes in the forward pack come on the back of injury and suspension, however Chibba (James Hanson), Dales (Ben Daley) and Beau (Robinson) have been very good for us this season,” Graham said.
“Curtis has continued to develop well throughout the season and his work at the tackle and ability to get to the gain line will be important this weekend.
“Through injury across the season we haven’t been able to present consistent selection in the back three, however Dom (Shipperley) returns from injury and will add some speed and experience in the backfield. On the other wing JJ starts and will be better for the range of experiences he has been exposed to this season.
“The results have not gone our way, but we realise we are not that far off. The playing group have continued to work hard. They understand that change will come if we focus on the issues that make the most difference, continue to prepare at a high standard and remain committed as a squad.
“We are pleased to be back at Suncorp in front of our own supporters this weekend. There is a long-standing rivalry with the Crusaders dating back to the start of Super Rugby. They are a very good side and I have no doubts the Sunday afternoon fixture will bring a huge crowd of families to see a fantastic game of Rugby.”
This Sunday’s Mother’s Day clash with the Crusaders is Reds Family Round, celebrating the important role the family unit plays in Rugby.
Round initiatives have included visits by James Horwill and Quade Cooper to their alma maters, an open training session at Ballymore Stadium earlier in the week and visits to their junior clubs by all Reds players at 5:30pm tomorrow.
Family Round initiatives continue on game day, with both the North and South precincts at Suncorp Stadium full of fun activities for children, including the St.George Rookies2Reds inflatable field, face painting and a visit from Queensland Rugby’s Junior Mascot – Red Dog.
The match will conclude with 100 Queensland cap presentations to both James Horwill and Quade Cooper, who both achieved the honour while on tour in New Zealand, before fans are welcomed on field to meet and interact with their heroes.
The Reds clash with the Crusaders this Sunday 11 May at Suncorp Stadium at 4:05pm (EST).
St.George Queensland Reds team to play Crusaders
1. Ben Daley
2. James Hanson
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (C)
6. Curtis Browning (run-on debut)
7. Beau Robinson
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (VC)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi
12. Anthony Fainga’a
13. Ben Tapuai
14. Dom Shipperley
15. Mike Harris
16. Saia Fainga’a
17. Albert Anae
18. Jono Owen
19. Ed O’Donoghue
20. Dave McDuling (potential debut)
21. Nick Frisby
22. Ben Lucas
23. Rod Davies
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