Five Queenslanders to miss Highlanders clash
The Queensland Reds will attempt to secure a historic Super Rugby win over the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday without a number of injured personnel, including strike weapon Digby Ioane.
The Wallabies wing has been ruled out of the round seven clash against the winless southerners at Forsyth Barr Stadium with a knee injury suffered during last weekend’s victory over the Bulls in Brisbane.
Auckland-born wing Chris Feauai-Sautia (thigh) also misses the trip so Reds coaching director Ewen McKenzie has named a new wing combination of Luke Morahan and Dom Shipperley.
Wallabies hooker Saia Faingaa (neck), reserve halfback Nick Frisby (ankle) and former North Harbour utility back Mike Harris (hand) are also in the casualty ward over Easter.
However, McKenzie can reinstate impressive openside flanker Liam Gill to the starting line-up after he was rested from the Bulls match to nurse a minor knee injury.
He relegates Jarrad Butler, another of the Reds’ Kiwi connection, to the reserves.
The other change to the Reds’ run-on side sees Rob Simmons reunite with Wallabies captain James Horwill in the second row.
It will be the first time the locks have played together since a derby against the Brumbies last May.
McKenzie, who overtakes Robbie Deans as the most-capped coach in Super Rugby history on 121 games, has rejigged his bench with prop Ben Daley, halfback Ben Lucas and outside backs Aidan Toua and Rod Davies joining the match-day squad.
Daley and Davies make their first appearances of the season after being delayed by injury.
McKenzie was unfazed at the number of changes he has had to make as he attempts to plot the Reds first win in Highlanders territory.
“We’ve always had the mentality of backing the next guy in line and there is no reason not to be positive or excited about our prospects against the Highlanders,” McKenzie said.
“We aren’t in a situation we’ve never dealt with before and there have been plenty of games where we’ve faced challenging circumstances but still come out on top.
“Two games that really stick in my mind are wins against the Chiefs in my first two seasons here, where we battled injuries but still travelled to New Zealand and got a result.”
The Reds have a bye next and then take on the similarly rested Chiefs in Hamilton.
Queensland Reds: Jono Lance, Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa, Ben Tapuai, Luke Morahan, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk, James Horwill (captain), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, James Hanson, Greg Holmes. Reserves: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Ed O'Donoghue, Jarrad Butler, Ben Lucas, Aidan Toua, Rod Davies.