St.George Queensland Reds flanker Beau Robinson will make his first start of 2014 in one of three changes to the run-on side by head coach Richard Graham to his team to face the Stormers.
Robinson, James Hanson and Dom Shipperley have been brought into the starting lineup for the match this Saturday, as the Reds look to return to winning ways at Suncorp Stadium in round seven of Asteron Life Super Rugby.
All three players were on the reserves bench last weekend when the Reds met the Lions, with Robinson being promoted to replace the injured Liam Gill, Hanson coming into the starting side for Saia Fainga’a and Shipperley for the injured Aidan Toua. Shipperley will play on the wing, with Lachie Turner shifting to fullback.
Following scans earlier this week, the Reds have learned Gill (hamstring) will be out of action for six weeks and Toua (pectoral) for 10 weeks. This is in addition to Chris Feauai-Sautia (hamstring) who will miss three weeks and Ben Daley (knee) who will miss six weeks.
“It is always disappointing to lose players for long periods, however the opportunity is there now for Beau (Robinson) and Dom (Shipperley) to contribute positively to our game,” Graham said.
“Both have been involved in every game this season. Beau brings an abrasiveness to the collision area and is an excellent communicator. Dom has started in three of the games and is continuing to develop his game, particularly his involvement in the close in channels.”
The changes to the starting lineup have also necessitated some shifts to the reserves bench, with Curtis Browning in the back row and Ben Lucas being brought back into the match-day 23 as cover for the back three.
The match also sees the potential for two milestone achievements from the bench, with Saia Fainga’a chasing his 100th Super Rugby cap and Ed O’Donoghue his 50th Queensland cap.
“It is a fantastic milestone for Saia (Fainga’a). 100 Super Rugby caps is a very notable achievement,” Graham said.
“With his caps split over time with the Brumbies and Reds, I think Saia would relish the opportunity potentially next year to also notch 100 games for Queensland. He has played the majority of his professional career here and is an extremely proud Queenslander.
“Donk (Ed O’Donoghue) is in his second stint after some time in Europe. He is a great team man and the boys will celebrate his 50th cap for the Reds. It is a good example to the younger players of perseverance and commitment to achieving your goals.”
Graham said the team needed little motivation to leave Suncorp with a win on Saturday night.
“We’ve had a difficult start to the season and the team is looking forward to returning to our fortress on Saturday night,” Graham said.
“Our trip to South Africa was tough. We didn’t get the results we wanted and suffered four injuries, but we’ve returned home with a desire to get our season heading in the right direction.
“With the next three games at home, we’re going to enjoy the opportunity to play in front of our own supporters.
“The Stormers are a very good side. They have been on the road for four weeks and will want to finish their Australasian tour with a win. They have been a perennial semi-finalist and have set the standard defensively for the competition over a long period. They are now putting a lot of time into their attack and are holding the ball for long periods.
“With the likes of (Jean) de Villiers, (Juan) De Jongh, (Gio) Aplon and (Peter) Grant in their backs, they will present a constant challenge. Their backrow has some real dynamism and will provide genuine punch in and around the contact areas.”
Graham also addressed the team’s recent run of penalties.
“Four of the Australian franchises (Waratahs, Brumbies, Force, Reds) sit atop the Super Rugby penalty count,” Graham said.
“It gives a strong indication of the mentality the Australian teams are taking, particularly at the defensive breakdown. Whilst we have conceded penalties in this area, we have also forced the most turnovers, averaging eight per game, and also forced opposition teams to play with the second slowest breakdown ball. We continue to work on the skill and the decision making but it is risk verse reward.
“Our attacking breakdown had come under scrutiny, but you need to look in greater depth to understand the penalty count. If anything, we were probably guilty of being a little ambitious at times in counter attack or the wider channels. We have put a fair bit of time into our attacking framework and we only conceded one penalty in attack on the weekend. That is a great result and supports the work we have done.
“We have gained a reputation on the back of the two games in South Africa. We need to continue improving to ensure perception isn’t reality. I have said a number of times this week that we need to control the outcome of games.
“We’re comfortable with the review process done by SANZAR. Lyndon Bray is guaranteeing the process is reflective of a high-performance organisation. We will continue to work with the referees to ensure our game constantly improves.”
The Reds and Stormers have met 17 times in Super Rugby, with seven wins for Queensland. The Reds’ record against the Stormers in Brisbane reads five wins from nine matches. Their most recent match against the Stormers was a 20-15 loss in Cape Town in 2013.
St.George Queensland Reds team to play Stormers at Suncorp Stadium?
1. James Slipper
2. James Hanson
3. Greg Holmes?
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (C)
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Beau Robinson
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (VC)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Dom Shipperley?
12. Mike Harris
13. Ben Tapuai
14. Rod Davies
16. Saia Fainga’a (100th Super Rugby cap)
17. Albert Anae
18. Jono Owen?
19.Ed O’Donoghue (50th Queensland cap)?
20. Curtis Browning
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