Karmichael Hunt, James O’Connor, Duncan Paia’Aua and Hendrik Tui join Reds in 2015.
More key signings to be announced in the next few weeks.
Nine players recommit to Reds – Anthony Fainga’a, Saia Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Greg Holmes, Ed O’Donoghue, Eddie Quirk, Jake Schatz and Ben Tapuai.
Two EPS players rewarded with full contracts – Samu Kerevi and Chris Kuridrani.
Seven players move on from Queensland – Albert Anae, Rod Davies, Mike Harris, Ben Lucas, Jono Owen, Dom Shipperley and Aidan Toua.
St.George Queensland Reds fans will welcome at least four new players to Suncorp Stadium next season, following the unveiling of the 2015 squad at the Reds Gala Ball in Brisbane on Friday night.
Three of the recruits, Karmichael Hunt, James O’Connor and Duncan Paia’aua are returning to the Queensland Rugby pathway, having played in high school before representing their state at various levels.
The fourth new recruit for 2015 is Hendrik Tui, a New Zealand-born Japanese Test Number 8, who will join the Reds from Suntory Sungoliaths, who continue to form a strong relationship with Queensland Rugby.
Further key signings will be announced in the coming weeks.
The Reds have retained 22 members of the main squad from the 2014 season, nine of which were off contract and have recommitted. In addition, Extended Player Squad (EPS) members Samu Kerevi and Chris Kuridrani have been awarded full contracts.
While former Reds Wider Training Squad hooker Andrew Ready and Bond University Queensland Country backrow Lolo Fakaosilea will form the Reds EPS in 2015.
Queensland Rugby Union CEO Jim Carmichael said: “For a number of years, this organisation has expected only the best.
“We are very committed to ensuring we put the most competitive team on the field year after year. We think this is reflected in the squad we have brought together for 2015 and beyond.
“Today’s announcement also demonstrates a determination by Queensland to continue to develop a talent pool that can deliver ongoing success.”
Hunt joins the Reds on a three-year deal which sees the former Anglican Church Grammar student return to Rugby Union.
The 27-year-old multi-code athlete started his professional career in the NRL, before playing Rugby Union in the French Top 14. He has spent the past four seasons with the AFL’s Gold Coast Suns.
Should he take the field for the Reds in the 2015 Super Rugby season, Hunt will become just the second professional athlete after Israel Folau to compete in all three of Australia’s winter football codes.
O’Connor returns home to Queensland after signing a two-year contract with the Reds.
The Australian Test player spent the 2013/2014 season with English Premiership club London Irish, before joining Heineken Cup and French Top 14 championship winners Toulon on a four-month deal. He will join the Reds for pre-season in early December.
Duncan Paia-Aua, who joins the Reds on a two-year deal, grew up in Rockhampton, where he played Rugby in high school and twice represented Queensland in Under 16s.
The 19-year-old flyhalf spent the past two seasons with the Brisbane Broncos under-20s side in the National Youth Competition.
Hendrik Tui, who has signed for one year, is a strong, ball-carrying backrow who has played 25 Tests for Japan in the last two years. He joined Suntory Sungoliaths in 2013, where he thrived alongside former Wallabies flanker George Smith.
In addition to the new signings, nine Reds have recommitted, with full squad members Anthony and Saia Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Nick Frisby, Greg Holmes, Ed O’Donoghue, Eddie Quirk, Jake Schatz and Ben Tapuai all returning in 2015.
The Fainga’as joined the Reds in 2009 and established themselves as integral members of the side’s resurgence. Both have played more than 50 caps for Queensland and now have the potential to join the club’s 100 cap list.
Feauai-Sautia, 20, will be looking to return to his best in 2015, after suffering a season-ending shoulder injury midway through 2014. The powerful outside back joined the Reds when he was just 17 years old.
Frisby is in just his second year as a fully-contracted member of the Reds squad. At just 21 years old, Frisby has proven to be a valuable asset at scrumhalf and on the wing.
The 2015 season will be Holmes’ 11th with the Queensland Reds, after he made his debut for his home state back in 2005. He is one of just four members of the current playing group to reach 100 caps for Queensland.
O’Donoghue started his career with the Reds in 2007 before leaving Australia to play in the United Kingdom. He returned in 2013 and joined the Reds as a member of their wider training squad, before signing a full contract for the 2014 season.
Reds backrowers Quirk and Schatz have ensured their future in Queensland colours. Schatz is determined to return to his best, as the high work rate Number 8 fell just short of a Wallabies debut last year due to injury.
Quirk too is looking to kick back into gear in 2015, after his 2014 season was cut short due to a knee injury.
Tapuai is in his sixth season for the Reds and reached 50 caps for Queensland in 2014.
Samu Kerevi has been rewarded for his hard work in 2014 with a full contract for two years. He was one of the finds of the 2014 Super Rugby season, having joined the Reds on an Extended Player Squad contract from Queensland Premier Rugby side GPS. While initially hampered by injury, Kerevi impressed when he made his Reds debut late in the 2014 season.
Kerevi’s club Rugby teammate Chris Kuridrani has also signed a full contract with the Reds, for the 2015 season. He is a powerful outside back who also made his Reds debut late in the 2014 season. Kuridrani is the younger brother of Crusaders’ winger Nemani Nadolo and first cousin of Wallabies centre Tevita Kuridrani.
The Reds Extended Player Squad for 2015 will comprise hooker Andrew Ready and backrow Lolo Fakaosilea. Ready earned an EPS contract in 2014 after representing Reds A in the Pacific Rugby Cup and was once named in the Reds’ Super Rugby match-day squad.
Fakaosilea represented both the Reds Under 20s and Australian Under 20s in 2014, while also featuring heavily for Sunnybank in their run to the Queensland Premier Rugby grand final. The Emerald local is also a member of the Queensland Country squad for the National Rugby Championship.
Reds head coach Richard Graham said he was pleased with the shape of the 2015 squad and was looking forward to seeing everyone together once pre-season starts in November.
“The 2014 season has been a difficult one for this group and we understood change was necessary,” Graham said.
“We’ve been working hard behind the scenes to find the right balance for the 2015 squad and beyond. Tonight’s announcement reflects that, with some new signings and some important familiar faces.
“We realise our performances on the field this year were not good enough and believe we have put together the right squad to achieve our goals.”
2015 St.George Queensland Reds squad
Saia Fainga’a (re-signed)
Greg Holmes (re-signed)
Andrew Ready (EPS)
Ed O’Donoghue (re-signed)
Lalo Fakaosilea (EPS – new signing)
Eddie Quirk (re-signed)
Jake Schatz (re-signed)
Hendrik Tui (new signing)
Nick Frisby (re-signed)
Duncan Paia-Aua (new signing)
Anthony Fainga’a (re-signed)
Chris Feauai-Sautia (re-signed)
Samu Kerevi (new signing)
Ben Tapuai (re-signed)
Karmichael Hunt (new signing)
Chris Kuridrani (new signing)
James O’Connor (new signing)
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