St.George Queensland Reds lock Rob Simmons will play his milestone 50th game for Queensland in Saturday’s Templeton Cup grudge match against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.
The Reds are expecting a bumper Suncorp Stadium crowd for their opening Super Rugby home game of the season with the match themed as the Reds Heritage Round as part of Queensland Rugby’s 130th Anniversary celebrations in 2013.
It will be a special evening for 23-year-old Sunnybank lock Rob Simmons as he celebrates a significant career achievement in reaching his milestone 50th game for Queensland in just his fifth season since debuting in 2009.
The Reds have made two changes to their starting line-up with Simmons to be joined in the second-row by lock Ed O’Donoghue while youngster Chris Feauai-Sautia has earned an opportunity at outside centre.
Feauai-Sautia replaces Aidan Toua in the number 13 jersey with the Reds continuing to manage the workload of the young flyer who has now featured in three straight matches following an offseason rehabilitating his hamstring.
Fellow centre Anthony Faingaa has also been ruled out of Saturday’s match by medical staff with Faingaa being given a further week to heal ligaments in his hand after he was unable to function at full capacity during training.
“Aidan spent nine months rehabbing his injury and after two trial games and last week’s clash against the Brumbies we felt his body would benefit in the long-term from a short break,” Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.
“Anthony is obviously disappointed to miss the game as we all entered the week confident he was once again fit for selection. But, after training on his injured hand in the early stages of the week, he was honest with us about where he thought he was at and we all agreed it would be best for him to be held out for a further week.
“Like any injury, all it does is provide an opportunity to the next man in line and this week it’s Chris who gets his chance in the starting team. Chris is a player rated highly by the coaching staff and his peers and already we’ve seen flashes of his potential, both last year and more recently from the bench against the Brumbies.
“Congratulations also to Rob Simmons on his 50th cap for Queensland. He really is one of the unsung achievers of the group and at only 23 years old has an incredibly bright future ahead of him and will no doubt one day be a 100-game player for Queensland.”
Simmons said it was an honour to reach the milestone for Queensland.
“Playing for the Reds isn’t something I’ve ever taken for granted so to be in line to play 50 games for Queensland is something pretty special,” Simmons said.
“For the milestone to come up at Suncorp Stadium against our biggest rival in the Waratahs only adds to the occasion and I know everyone is looking forward to getting back out in front of our home fans for the first time this year.
“We’re hurting a bit after the Brumbies game but the great thing about Rugby is you only need to wait a week to get another chance and I personally can’t wait for Saturday night.”
Last time the Reds and Waratahs clashed was in the final regular season round of the 2012 Super Rugby competition where only a victory with a four-try bonus point would secure the Reds the Australian Conference and a place in back-to-back Finals Series. The Reds did just that as they piled on five tries in a one-sided 32-16 affair.
The Reds have now won three straight matches against the Waratahs and a win on Saturday night would not only extend their recent dominance over NSW but would also strengthen their proud record at ‘fortress’ Suncorp Stadium, where the Reds boast an impeccable record having won 21 of their past 24 games.
In Super Rugby history, the Reds and Waratahs have gone head-to-head on 19 occasions and it’s the Queenslanders who have the advantage with 11 wins, seven losses and one draw. In 10 total Super Rugby games played between the two sides in Queensland, the Reds have won six, lost three and drawn once.
St.George Queensland Reds
1. Greg Holmes
2. Saia Faingaa
3. James Slipper (c)
4. Ed O’Donoghue
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. Chris Feauai-Sautia
14. Dom Shipperley
15. Mike Harris
16. James Hanson
17. Albert Anae
18. Adam Wallace-Harrison
19. Jarrad Butler
20. Nick Frisby
21. Jono Lance
22. Luke Morahan