Reds look to end another drought
Queensland looks set to take a rare unchanged team into Saturday’s quest to end a six-year drought without three straight Super rugby wins.
Reds coach Ewen McKenzie on Wednesday night admitted it would be tough to make personnel adjustments for their clash with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein following the last-start 50-10 hammering of the Western Force.
Young speedster Rod Davies has returned from a cheekbone fracture to put his hand back up for a place on the wing while lock Adam Byrnes was rotated onto the bench against the Force.
Both were starting incumbents at the beginning of the season but Brando Va’aulu’s form on the wing and Rob Simmons’ run-on debut in the second-row appears to have that pair on a firm footing.
McKenzie, to announce his team on Thursday morning (AEDT), has to decide whether to ease Davies back in through the bench or fully reward his blazing early-season displays.
“These are all discussions we’re having at the moment,” he told AAP. “Rod has missed three weeks but he had done some good things before he got injured.”
With veteran centre Morgan Turinui overlooked for the three-match South African tour, there is a spot on the bench available for Davies.
Vice-captain and flanker Daniel Braid looks to be recovering well from a minor knee ligament strain sustained against the Force on March 14 and should play.
The Cheetahs, last season’s wooden-spooners who have won two of their first five matches in a more promising start to 2010, have injury troubles of their own after losing three starters from their bruising loss to the Stormers.
Fullback Hennie Daniller (kidney), winger Lionel Mapoe (shoulder) and No.8 Frans Viljoen (cheekbone) are all sidelined but they have strong replacements in Riaan Viljoen, Danwel Demas and Springbok tourist Ashley Johnson.
The Reds, who achieved their first back-to-back victories in four years when they beat the Force, are also looking to win three in a row for the first time since 2004 when they ended the season with triumphs over the Sharks, Cats and NSW.
Meantime, Simmons is one of three forwards to have recently recommitted to the Reds beyond this season with lock partner Van Humphries and blind-side flanker Scott Higginbotham.
The in-form Higginbotham will get a major test of his skills against Cheetahs skipper and Springbok flanker Juan Smith who is a pivotal figure for his team.
© AAP 2013
Cheetahs: Riaan Viljoen, Danwel Demas, Robert Ebersohn, Meyer Bosman, Jongi Nokwe, Naas Olivier, Sarel Pretorius, Ashley Johnson, Juan Smith (capt), Hendro Scholtz, Waltie Vermeulen, Nico Breedt, WP Nel, Adriaan Strauss, Wian du Preez. Res: Skipper Badenhorst, Coenie Oosthuizen, Barend Pieterse, Kabamba Floors, Tewis de Bruyn, Corne Uys, Wilmaure Louw.
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