Reds change just one for champion Chiefs

Getty Images and James Mortimer     12 Apr 2013     Getty Images

After battling a hamstring injury during the early stages of the year, Davies was impressive in his first opportunity of the season in a dynamic cameo off the bench in the Reds bonus point victory over the Highlanders almost a fortnight ago.

Davies is one of two changes made to the matchday 22-man squad from the 34-33 victory in Dunedin with fellow winger Chris Feauai-Sautia recovering from a thigh injury to earn his place on the bench.

The Reds enter Saturday’s contest buoyed by a strong start to their 2013 campaign, winning five of their seven matches to sit on 26 competition points and only three points behind the competition-leading Chiefs.

In recent times, the Reds have performed admirably against the 2012 Super Rugby champions with Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie’s men successful in their past three competition fixtures against the Chiefs, including two victories in Hamilton in 2011 (19-11) and in 2010 (23-18).

Their most recent victory came at Suncorp Stadium last year when the Reds produced a remarkable second half comeback to turnaround a 22-8 deficit into an entertaining 42-27 win.

In total, the Reds have won 10 of their past 11 Super Rugby matches against New Zealand opposition with their only loss during that time frame coming in a narrow 15-11 encounter against the Crusaders in Christchurch in 2012.

“Historically we have a proud record against New Zealand opponents while this group is also one that prides itself on their performances against the best teams and on the big stage,” McKenzie said.

“The Chiefs have been outstanding in their title defence but we’ll go into the match with the right mindset and excited about our prospects and the challenge of playing in Hamilton.”

Captain James Horwill will make his third consecutive start of 2013 and will be joined by Rob Simmons in the second-row; props Greg Holmes and James Slipper and hooker James Hanson in the front-row; and Eddie Quirk, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz in the backrow.

Playmakers Will Genia and Quade Cooper will call the shots for a backline featuring Ben Tapuai and Anthony Faingaa in the centres, Davies and Dom Shipperley on the wings; and Jono Lance at fullback.

Reds team to play Chiefs

1. Greg Holmes
2. James Hanson
3. James Slipper
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (c)
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (vc)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Rod Davies
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Anthony Faingaa
14. Dom Shipperley
15. Jono Lance

16. Albert Anae
17. Ben Daley
18. Ed O’Donoghue
19. Jarrad Butler
20. Ben Lucas
21. Chris Feauai-Sautia
22. Aidan Toua