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Reds finalise backline for 2013 and 2014 seasons

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redsrugby.com.au     06 Aug 2012     Getty Images

The retention of the young trio until the end of the 2014 significantly strengthens Queensland’s backline stocks for the future and continues the trend of Reds players pledging their long-term commitment to the organisation.

Also in the Reds backline, playmakers Will Genia and Quade Cooper recently re-signed through until the end of 2015 while Digby Ioane, Ben Lucas and Anthony Faingaa also committed their future to Queensland Rugby during the past 12 months.

All three players were influential members of Queensland’s 2012 season with Tapuai and Davies earning 10 caps each during injury-interrupted campaigns, while Shipperley featured in every minute of all 17 matches throughout the year.

The combined average age of the three rising stars is just over 22-years-old although the trio has gained much experience during the early stages of their careers, accumulating a combined 83 Super Rugby matches.

All have also been rewarded with Wallaby squad selection during the past two seasons with Tapuai and Shipperley involved in Australia’s 2012 national training setup, while Davies made his Wallabies debut against Samoa in 2011.

Tapuai and Shipperley were just two of the 14 Queensland representatives that participated in Australia’s recent training camp in Sydney ahead of the inaugural Rugby Championship.

“Despite their young age Ben, Dom and Rod have all produced amazing results in our Rugby program, so it’s extremely pleasing to retain their services heading into what will be the peak of their careers,” Reds coach Ewen McKenzie said.

“Our entire squad is voting with their feet and choosing to stay in Queensland and we’ll return a more experienced and stronger group next season from the adversity we faced in 2012.

“Our backline was ravaged by injury early in the season although Ben and Dom stepped up and were two of our most consistent and regular performers on a weekly basis. It was unfortunate that injury eventually struck down Ben but both he and Dom both finished the season strongly and were deserved Wallaby squad members.

“Injury also hampered Rod’s season but when fit he was a huge asset to the team as he showed the ability to cover roles at both fullback and on the wing.

“He now has plenty of time to get his injuries right during the offseason and we expect him to return to his best form in 2013, where his pace and x-factor is a huge strength to our brand of Rugby.”

Tapuai, 23, was the form player within the Reds squad during the opening eight rounds of 2012 before a broken collarbone against the Stormers saw the talented centre miss all but the Reds final regular season game of the season against the Waratahs and Qualifying Final against the Sharks.

The 2011 Reds Most Improved Player of the Year winner, Tapuai displayed enough brilliance during his 10 Super Rugby caps this season to also impress Wallaby selectors, earning a call up to their second national train-on squad.

Shipperley, 21, enjoyed a breakout 2012 campaign and ended the year with eight tries, second on Queensland’s all-time Super Rugby singular season try-scorers list alongside Ben Tune and behind only Chris Latham’s 10-try effort from 2002.

The speedster racked up a number of highlight moments throughout the season, where he played in every minute of every match, including Queensland’s Qualifying Final at Suncorp Stadium against the Sharks.

Davies, 23, excelled in his opportunities at fullback to commence the 2012 season before shifting back to his customary role on the wing and will now enter the 2013 season with an impressive try-scoring strike-rate of 10 Super Rugby tries from 35 matches.

A hamstring injury ended Davies 2012 campaign, and he also recently underwent a shoulder reconstruction, but when at his best the fleet-footed winger is a dynamic finisher and the only Queensland Reds player to have scored three tries in a singular match in Super Rugby history.