The St.George Queensland Reds will be bolstered by the return of James Horwill and James O’Connor for this weekend’s match against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein.
Reds head coach Richard Graham has made four personnel changes to the starting side for the match that lost 43-22 to the Bulls in Pretoria last weekend.
In the forwards, Horwill returns to the starting lineup after missing last weekend due to suspension. He replaces Dave McDuling who injured his knee against the Bulls. James Hanson returns to starting hooker after Saia Fainga’a suffered an upper body injury against the Bulls.
In the backs, O’Connor is back on the starting wing, with Chris Feauai-Sautia shifted to the centres and Anthony Fainga’a moved to the bench.
Graham has opted for a five-three split on the reserves bench, with Andrew Ready again in line to make his debut as reserve hooker. Should he take the field, Ready will be the 14th Queensland debutant this season.
Graham said his side was looking forward to the challenge of taking on the Cheetahs at their home ground.
“This weekend is another fantastic challenge in South Africa. The group delivered some real positives last week but we understand we need to tighten up on a number of areas if we are to get a result against the Cheetahs,” he said.
“The team have focused a lot this week on our attacking framework and how we can continue to maximize our strengths from prop through to fullback. The four tries against the Bulls demonstrated we are heading in the right direction, however each week in Super Rugby there is a need to evolve.
“It is disappointing to lose Saia (Faingaa), Dave (McDuling) and Ben (Tapuai) to injury but we’re fortunate this time around to be able to bring James Horwill and James O’Connor into the side. Both have a lot of experience at this level of Rugby and also playing at altitude here in South Africa.
“We wanted to give Samu (Kerevi) and Chris (Feauai-Sautia) an opportunity to play together again in the centres. They have a specific job this weekend in the context of the team’s game plan. Both are big men and should generate momentum when they have the ball.
“Andrew Ready has sat on the bench a number of times but has not yet won a Queensland cap. He has worked hard and has pushed the two other hookers to be better. If he were to take the field it would be good reward.
“The Cheetahs enjoy the game becoming loose and with the likes of Sarel Pretorius, Cornal Hendricks and Raymond Rhule they are able to capitalise very quickly. Add Hendrik Brussow to that mix and they become a very capable side.
“The team are looking forward to getting to Bloemfontein Friday and playing our second game in South Africa before returning to Brisbane.”
This week Reds prop Ben Daley’s ‘Be Great, Do Good’ campaign features headgear in support of Save Valley Conservancy – a wildlife reserve to conserve endangered rhino populations in South Africa.
‘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 Cheetahs in Bloemfontein this Sunday at 3:10am (AEST). The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports.
St.George Queensland Reds to play Cheetahs in Bloemfontein
1. James Slipper (C)
2. James Hanson
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill
6. Curtis Browning
7. Liam Gill
8. Adam Thomson
9. Will Genia
10. Nick Frisby
11. James O’Connor
12. Samu Kerevi
13. Chris Feauai-Sautia
14. Lachie Turner
15. Karmichael Hunt
16. Andrew Ready (potential debut)
17. Ben Daley
18. Sam Talakai
19. Marco Kotze
20. Adam Korczyk
21. Anthony Fainga’a
22. Campbell Magnay
23. Chris Kuridrani