Rugby fans on the Downs are in for a treat this weekend with St.George Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham naming a strong team for their opening trial against the Chiefs.
The Reds face the Chiefs at Toowoomba Sports Ground this Saturday, 8 February, in their first pre-season clash of 2014.
Of the nine Reds players from the Wallabies recent Spring Tour, eight have been named to start the game against the Chiefs.
Spring Tour Wallabies Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, James Horwill, Liam Gill, Will Genia, Quade Cooper and Mike Harris will start the game, with Chris Feauai-Sautia likely to play at least half a game from the reserves.
The match will also feature five new players to Reds colours, with former Waratahs and Wallabies flyer Lachie Turner, Dave McDuling, Chris Kuridrani, Samuela Kerevi and Jonah Placid all named as reserves in their first match for the Reds.
With four months of pre-season training in the tank, Graham said the team is looking forward to finally taking the field.
“After four months of pre-season, it’s good to finally arrive at this point,” Graham said.
“It’s pleasing to see all of our players fit and keen to play the Chiefs this weekend.
“We’ve had a long pre-season and worked on a lot of different aspects of our game. This weekend’s game is the first of 2014 and provides an opportunity to work on all the technical and tactical aspects we’ve touched on in pre-season.
“We’re playing the reigning, two-time Super Rugby champions. It will allow us to continue developing combinations and test our players in match conditions.”
Graham said he was impressed with the way the squad has come together throughout the pre-season.
“It’s a credit to the work ethic of the entire squad. We have a group that wants to be around each other, want to improve and enjoys the competitive training environment,” Graham said.
The pre-season match will feature 20-minute quarters, with both sides fielding 28-man squads with unlimited interchange.
The event will also feature a curtain raiser between Darling Downs and Queensland Police at 3:30pm.
The Reds kick off against the Chiefs at Toowoomba Sports Ground at 6:30pm.
Prior to kick off, both teams will participate in a moment of silence in memory of former Toowoomba Grammar student Tom Lyons who passed away on the weekend at the age of 21.
This weekend’s match is the first of two pre-season fixtures for the Reds, with their second clash coming against the Rebels at Ballymore Stadium next Friday, 14 February.
Tickets are still available to the two St.George Queensland Reds pre-season games, follow the below links for more information.
Toowoomba pre-season match, Reds v Chiefs, Saturday 8 February: http://bit.ly/18tPBhE
Ballymore pre-season match, Reds v Rebels, Friday 14 February: http://bit.ly/1huyN2R
St.George Queensland Reds v Chiefs (Toowoomba)?1. Ben Daley?2. Saia Fainga’a?3. James Slipper?4. Rob Simmons ?5. James Horwill (C)?6. Eddie Quirk?7. Liam Gill?8. Jake Schatz?9. Will Genia (VC)?10. Quade Cooper?11. Lachie Turner?12. Mike Harris?13. Ben Tapuai?14. Dom Shipperley?15. Aidan Toua
Reserves?Greg Holmes, Albert Anae, Jono Owen, Ed O’Donoghue, Blake Enever, Dave McDuling, Curtis Browning, Nick Frisby, Chris Kuridrani, Samuela Kerevi, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Rod Davies, Jonah Placid.