The St.George Queensland Reds have today unveiled their starting line-up for Saturdayâ€™s blockbuster round one Super Rugby affair against the ACT Brumbies in Canberra.
Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie made the announcement on the eve of his sideâ€™s Super Rugby season opener where the Reds are primed to continue their recent winning form of three victories from the past four Super Rugby matches against the Brumbies.
McKenzie has chosen his starting XV specifically to play the ACT side and will inject flyer Aidan Toua at outside centre following impressive preseason form and his standout performance in the Reds number 13 jersey during a 20-13 victory over the Brumbies in 2012.
He joins vice-captain Ben Tapuai in the midfield while Dom Shipperley has won the hotly contested race for the wing position opposite Digby Ioane with goal-kicking ace Mike Harris rounding out the back-three at fullback.
Playmaker Quade Cooper also makes his return to action after missing last yearâ€™s Qualifying Final loss to the Sharks through suspension and will join scrumhalf Ben Lucas in the halves.
Prop James Slipper will captain the Reds as part of a starting front-row which includes Greg Holmes at loosehead prop and Saia Faingaa at hooker.
In the absence of injured skipper James Horwill, locks Rob Simmons and Adam Wallace-Harrison will commence the game in the second-row while Reds College lock Ed Oâ€™Donoghue has earned a place on the bench.
The Reds will boast a young yet talented backrow with Wallaby Liam Gill at openside flanker, Eddie Quirk at blindside flanker and Jake Schatz packing down at the back of the scrum at No.8.
McKenzie has opted for a traditional 4-3 split on the bench with Albert Anae, James Hanson, Jarrad Butler and Oâ€™Donoghue covering the forwards and Nick Frisby, Jono Lance and Chris Fâ€™Sautia the backs.
After a standout performance in the Reds College XVâ€™s victory over the Australian Rugby Unionâ€™s National Academy on Thursday night, the versatile Nigel Ah Wong has travelled with the team as their 23rd man.
â€śThere are a lot of factors that dictate selection, including experience, but we also try to acknowledge current form,â€ť McKenzie said.
â€śGuys such as Aidan Toua and Eddie Quirk havenâ€™t played a lot of Super Rugby but have put their hand up during the preseason.
â€śWeâ€™ve got some very strong ideas on how we want to play the Brumbies and the entire group has understood since Monday the role they play in that.Â Weâ€™ve had a great preparation.â€ť
St.George Queensland Reds team to play Brumbies
1. Greg Holmes
2. Saia Faingaa
3. James Slipper (c)
4. Adam Wallace-Harrison
5. Rob Simmons
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Ben Lucas
10. Quade Cooper
11. Digby Ioane
12. Ben Tapuai (vc)
13. Aidan Toua
14. Dom Shipperley
15. Mike Harris
16. Albert Anae
17. James Hanson
18. Ed O’Donoghue
19. Jarrad Butler
20. Nick Frisby
21. Jono Lance
22. Chris F’Sautia