Reds named for a rare Kiwi whitewash?
redsrugby.com.au and James Mortimer 27 Apr 2013 Getty Images
“The Blues are a very talented side and the short six-day turnaround makes things even more complicated for us, so to be able to maintain continuity in our selections is important,” Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.
“We keep the same 22 players but are giving Saia and Ben the chance to start and bring something different to our game. They’ve obviously been frustrated by injuries earlier in the season, so I’m sure they’re eager to grab the opportunity they’ve been given and run with it.”
The Reds will be chasing another piece of history on Friday night as they look to become the first Reds team in the professional Rugby era to sweep their New Zealand opposition in a Super Rugby regular season. With victories against the Hurricanes, Highlander and Chiefs already in the bag, a win tomorrow night would see the Reds end their 2013 regular season campaign undefeated against the Kiwis.
The opportunity comes after the Reds also ticked off another milestone against the Blues in 2012, with Queensland’s 23-11 victory in round 10 their first-ever at Eden Park in Super Rugby history.
Victory on Friday night would also extend the Reds recent strong record against New Zealand teams with Queensland beating their Trans-Tasman rivals in 11 of their past 12 matches.
However, it won’t be an easy proposition for the Reds, with the Blues currently sitting second on the ladder and leading the New Zealand Conference following recent impressive wins over the Highlanders (29-18) and the Hurricanes (28-6).
The Blues impressive season-long form shapes for a highly entertaining match with the Reds also on a roll in attack, where in their past three matches they have recorded consecutive bonus point victories over the Highlanders (34-33) and Chiefs (31-23) before also scoring on three occasions in their draw with the Brumbies.
“We’re a side that takes pride in ticking off new milestones and breaking hoodoos, so we look forward to the challenge of becoming the first Reds team to go unbeaten against the Kiwis during a Super Rugby regular season,” McKenzie said.
“We really enjoy the tactical battle against the New Zealand teams, but the Blues are on top of their Conference for a reason and we aren’t under any misconceptions about the challenge they will bring to the game tomorrow.
“Sir John Kirwan has done an amazing job turning around their on-field fortunes this season and the match should be a great spectacle for the fans.”
Friday’s match has been themed around ANZAC Day and will see two Army teams compete in the curtain raiser match, with the Army's 7th Brigade team lining up against a composite team drawn from the 6th, 16th and 17th Brigades (kickoff 5:30pm).
The 7th Brigade has been active on operations both overseas and within Australia for over a decade.
Brigade Commander Brigadier Greg Bilton said his soldiers were proud to support Queenslanders affected by the floods of 2011, 2012 and 2013, and humbled by the support that the Queensland community has offered in return.
"The 7th Brigade is known as 'South East Queensland's own'," Brigadier Bilton said.
“And the soldiers really do take that to heart - this is their home, their life, not just their workplace."
Tickets for St.George Queensland Reds v Blues are available here: http://premier.ticketek.com.au/shows/Show.aspx?sh=REDS1113.
St.George Queensland Reds team to play the Blues
1. Ben Daley
2. Saia Faingaa
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. Digby Ioane
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Anthony Faingaa
14. Rod Davies
15. Jono Lance
16. James Hanson
17. Greg Holmes
18. Ed O'Donoghue
19. Jarrad Butler
20. Ben Lucas
21. Chris Feauai-Sautia
22. Dom Shipperley