Reds scrumhalf Will Genia has been named to win his 100th cap for Queensland when the Queensland side face the Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium on Friday.
Genia made his debut for Queensland in 2006 against Japan, before his first Super Rugby appearance the following year. He has since become an integral member of the Reds and was highly influential during their 2011 Super Rugby title-winning season. Now in his eighth season of Super Rugby, Genia said running out for his 100th Queensland cap would be his most cherished milestone to date.
“To be honest it’s my proudest achievement in Rugby so far,” Genia said. “I just love Queensland and everything about the Reds. I love the state and the people. I also love my teammates. We’ve gone through a long journey together and have had a pretty special journey so far, so this achievement means the world to me.”
Reds head coach Richard Graham congratulated Genia on becoming just the 29th player to reach 100 caps for Queensland. “Will is now the fourth current member of our squad to reach 100 caps for Queensland and he is incredibly deserving of the honour,” Graham said. “You cannot question his dedication to the Queensland jersey or his level of professionalism in his preparation.
“I know how passionate he is for this club and how proud he is to reach the milestone of 100 caps for Queensland.” Graham has made a number of changes to the side that lost to the Melbourne Rebels two weekends ago, with further injuries forcing some selection decisions.
In the forwards, experienced hooker Saia Fainga’a (calf) and props Jono Owen (back) and Ben Daley (thumb) are unavailable for selection due to injuries received during their last match. Flanker Eddie Quirk was a late withdrawal from consideration after rupturing his ACL at training during the week. In the backs, flyhalf Quade Cooper (shoulder) and wing/centre Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder) are out for the remainder of the season, while back three options Lachie Turner (ankle) and Aidan Toua (pectoral) are not expected to return from their lengthy injury layoffs until after the June Test window.
In some good news for the side, prop James Slipper returns to the starting lineup following a three-week suspension for a lifting tackle. Slipper will slot straight into loosehead in place of Daley. Graham has made two changes to the starting backline, with Ben Lucas coming in for Cooper and Rod Davies returning to the XV to replace Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, who moves to the bench.
The Reds’ reserves bench sees the potential for three young players to make their debut for Queensland on Friday night, with hooker Andrew Ready, prop Sef Faagase and centre Samu Kerevi all named. Liam Gill also returns for the Reds after recovering from a calf injury that ruled him out of the last two games.
“The return of Slipper and Gill is a strong boost for the team, but we’ve obviously had a pretty tough run with injuries this season and that list has only grown over the last couple of weeks,” Graham said. “Thankfully we have depth in our programs and this Friday provides some of our younger players opportunity and experience. It is the opposite end of the spectrum. Will playing his 100th cap and others potentially playing their first. Both will be remembered for their own significance and importance.
“Our three potential debutants in Andrew, Sef and Samu have been with the program since pre-season and have worked hard throughout to ensure they were ready when the opportunity arose. If they get on the field I have no doubt they’ll offer everything they can in their debut. “In terms of our backline for the weekend, I thought Benny Lucas was very good when he came on to replace Quade early in the game against the Rebels. He’s worked very hard for this club and has trained well in the role all year whilst not getting a lot of game time specifically at 10.
“Rocket (Rod Davies) comes back into the starting lineup with a fair bit of confidence and will give us some added speed in the outside backs. “The Highlanders were unlucky not to get a result last weekend. They play at a high pace and it’ll be a very physical match. We are really looking forward to it.”
1. James Slipper , 2. James Hanson , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Rob Simmons , 5. James Horwill (C) , 6. Curtis Browning , 7. Beau Robinson , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Will Genia (VC) (100th Queensland cap) , 10. Ben Lucas , 11. Rod Davies , 12. Anthony Fainga’a , 13. Ben Tapuai , 14. Dom Shipperley , 15. Mike Harris
Replacements : 16. Andrew Ready (potential debut) , 17. Albert Anae , 18. Sef Faagase (potential debut) , 19. Dave McDuling , 20. Liam Gill , 21. Nick Frisby , 22. Samu Kerevi (potential debut) , 23. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi