No 7 Liam Gill set for Reds' Super Shark hunt

JIM MORTON
Last updated 13:47 12/03/2014

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Battle-scarred Queensland flanker Liam Gill has been cleared for action in this weekend's test of character for the Reds' worker-bee pack against the Super Rugby-leading Sharks.

Gill is still sporting a cut and major swelling around his eye following a head clash with fellow back-rower Ed Quirk in the 43-33 win over the Cheetahs which had him in doubt for the start of the Reds' South African safari.

While the 21-year-old admitted Quirk's friendly fire hadn't helped his looks, the in-form Wallaby is on board for Queensland's huge challenge at Kings Park.

"As ugly as it looks, the eye has actually pulled up all right," he said from Durban.

"It's all clear to play and everything is all good with it."

It's a major boost for the Reds as Gill has been their most influential forward in their opening three matches and they'll need him to be at his best against the bruising Sharks pack on Sunday morning (NZ time).

Former Brumbies coach Jake White's new team have brushed aside the Bulls, Hurricanes and Lions on the back of an abrasive power game.

With huge Springbok forwards Bismarck and Jannie du Plessis, Tendai Mtawarira, Willem Alberts and Ryan Kankowski, the Sharks will again aim to overpower Queensland, who are one of the smaller packs in the competition.

"We expect them to really come at us," Gill said. "But we're very excited about it.

"Jake has shown what he can do with the Brumbies and now he's showing what he can do with the Sharks."

Reds forwards coach Nick Stiles has worked hard on improving technical aspects at the set-piece this season and a pack mentality and their extra mobility will be keys to combating the Sharks' size.

Stiles was part of Reds teams which regularly won in Durban, even stealing games at the death, before their last win there in 2004.

But they have lost their past four visits to Kings Park, including a 27-22 defeat in 2012 after they had led 17-0.

"Records are there to be broken and we have a very good team now with a lot of established players," Gill said.

"We understand how hard the Sharks are. We were lucky enough to beat them last year in Brisbane (32-17) but now we have to show we're good enough to do it away."

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