Adopted Wallaby Mike Harris has lost out following Queensland’s opening win of the Super Rugby tournament with the New Zealander surrendering the fullback berth to another imported player for Friday night’s clash with the Hurricanes in Brisbane.
The former North Harbour representative has been relegated to the reserves bench at Suncorp Stadium to make way for Papua New Guinea-born utility back Aiden Toua.
By demoting Harris, whose most notable contribution to the 25-17 win over the Waratahs was an undetected borderline hit on Adam Ashley-Cooper, Reds coaching director Ewen McKenzie has sacrificed entrusted the place kicking duties to Quade Cooper.
Toua, 23, is considered a more potent counter attacker than Harris.
He prefers to play at fullback but was named at centre for the season-opening loss to the Brumbies and then was excused last Saturday’s derby success as he manages a minor hamstring strain.
“We have strong thoughts about how the game is going to be played and feel that Aidan really has something to offer in this match from fullback,” McKenzie said.
“We took a pre-emptive approach to his hamstring last week and you can already sense the benefit it has had to his preparation for this game.”
Harris was squeezed out because McKenzie opted against reinstating Toua to midfield where vice-captain Ben Tapuai and Auckland-born Australian Schoolboys star Chris Feauai-Sautia were effective containing the NSW backline.
In the only change to the forward resources No 8 Radike Samo is named on the bench for the first time this season, replacing injured back rower Jarrad Butler.
“Having Radike healthy once again is also pleasing. We all saw the impact he made with his involvements during the trials and we’ll be looking for a repeat performance when he’s called upon,” McKenzie said.
Although the round three clash is an opportunity for the 2011 Super Rugby champions to extend an impressive record on home ground – 22 wins from their last 25 games – the Hurricanes will approach the fixture with a degree of confidence.
The Reds last beat the Hurricanes in 2007 – a highlight of the disastrous Eddie Jones era and their only success in 10 attempts.
“The Hurricanes have a new lease on life under Mark Hammett and they showed last season just how dangerous they can be with the ball in hand,” McKenzie said.
“We’ve worked hard over the past few seasons in overcoming numerous hoodoos and creating a history of our own, so Friday night represents another opportunity for this group to step up and do what no Reds team has done since 2007.”
Queensland Reds: Aiden Toua, Dom Shipperley, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Ben Tapuai, Digby Ioane, Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk, Ed O’Donoghue, Rob Simmons, James Slipper (captain), Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Reserves: James Hanson, Albert Anae, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Radike Samo, Nick Frisby, Mike Harris, Luke Morahan.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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