Queensland Reds head coach Richard Graham has made three changes to the starting side for this weekend’s match against the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium – highlighted by the return of experienced lock James Horwill.
Horwill was a late withdrawal from last week’s match due to back spasms, but has been declared fit and will take the place of Dave McDuling in the starting lineup.
On the flip side, injury has forced two changes to the back three, with Lachie Turner and James O’Connor ruled out.
After suffering a second successive concussion against the Waratahs, Turner is on an automatic one game stand down and is replaced by impressive teenager Campbell Magnay on the wing. O’Connor has a leg injury and has been unable to train this week so makes way for Ben Tapuai at fullback.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said: “It is fantastic to have Kev (James Horwill) back in the team after a few weeks on the sideline. His hand injury was a freak injury but a horrendous one at the same time. His withdrawal last week with a back spasm has allowed him an extra 7 days recovery and he’ll be fully fit this weekend.
“We haven’t been able to manage the continuity of selection in the backs but we have a lot of clarity on the way that we want to play. Will (Genia) and Nick (Frisby) will be playing their third game together this year and are developing an understanding of how they can complement each other.
“Taps (Ben Tapuai) adds another kicking option with his left foot and it’ll open up options down the left side of the field. Whilst he hasn’t played a lot with the team this season, his 25 minute stint last weekend demonstrated how well he understands what we want and what benefits he can add to the team’s shape.
“James (O’Connor) is a victim of his own previous injury and of the situation we have found ourselves in with the number of backline injuries. He was always skinny on the amount of work he’d done and then found himself playing 80 minutes back to back. He suffered a nasty cork early in the Waratahs game which finished as a small strain by the end. It’s not ideal but we have been chasing a bit in the backs due to the lack of numbers and continuity.
“It’s great to be playing at home again in front of the Reds faithful. Last week over 27,000 people turned up to support the team, a season record for Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby games. Not bad for a team under a bit of pressure early on.
“The team are upbeat and looking forward to the game against the Brumbies. The previous result has absolutely no bearing on this contest. We haven’t even discussed it.”
The reserves bench sees University of Queensland fullback Tom Banks once again get the opportunity to make his Reds and Super Rugby debut – after he was also named in the match-day 23 to play the Western Force, but didn’t take the field.
The Reds and Brumbies have met 25 times in Super Rugby with 5 wins to Queensland and one draw.
This week Reds prop Ben Daley’s ‘Be Great, Do Good’ campaign features headgear in support of the Leukaemia Foundation’s ‘World’s Greatest Shave’ – which is dedicated to improving the lives of patients with all types of blood cancer.
‘Be Great, Do Good’ is an initiative by Daley, in which he will support a different charity every week by wearing unique headgear to raise awareness and funds for their cause. Click here for more information.
The Reds play the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium this Saturday 14 March at 6:40pm (local). Tickets are still available at www.redsrugby.com.au. The match will also be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
St.George Queensland Reds side to play Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium
1. James Slipper (C)
2. Saia Fainga’a
3. Sam Talakai
4. Marco Kotze
5. James Horwill
6. Adam Thomson
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia
10. Nick Frisby
11. Campbell Magnay
12. Anthony Fainga’a
13. Chris Feauai-Sautia
14. Chris Kuridrani
15. Ben Tapuai
16. James Hanson
17. Ben Daley
18. Sef Faagase
19. Dave McDuling
20. Curtis Browning
21. Scott Gale
22. Sam Johnson
23. Tom Banks (potential Super Rugby debut)