Reds suspected of Super Rugby smokescreen
Brumbies coach Jake White suspects a selection smokescreen after the Queensland Reds thrust uncapped rookie Sam Lane into their playmaking hot seat for their Good Friday clash.
While the struggling Super Rugby champions named Lane – brought into their squad only last week as an injury replacement – as their fourth five-eighth this season, White and Brumbies officials seriously doubted initial reports the 21-year-old would line up for a baptism of fire at Suncorp Stadium.
“I’ll be very surprised if Sam Lane starts,” White said on arrival in Brisbane on Thursday.
The son of former Wallabies centre and World Cup-winning backs coach Tim Lane, the small-statured left-footer was named at No.10 as Dallan Murphy was dropped to the bench.
The suspicions are that Murphy will indeed start, despite failing to make an impact in heavy losses to the Bulls (61-8) and Western Force (45-19), and the fit-again Aidan Toua (hamstring) was another smokey at centre.
But Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie was quick to assure he wasn’t playing mind games by making the tough call to pick Lane, who must muscle up in defending hard-running Wallabies centre Pat McCabe.
“We’ve surprised Jake then, that’s good,” McKenzie laughed. “No, (Lane) will be out there.
“We’re a team that doesn’t mind taking calculated risks on the field and in selection. We’ve always backed ourselves in that space.”
McKenzie likes what he’s seen in Cape Town-schooled Lane, who returned to Sydney last November to play under his father at Manly and be a member of the national academy.
McKenzie had invited him to train with the Reds two pre-seasons ago and made a habit of catching up with the South African under-20 triallist in the Republic since then.
“The fact he’s here isn’t as big a surprise as people might think,” he said.
A delighted Lane said he’d enjoyed a fast transition in his 10 days of training with the Reds and was buoyed by making his debut outside Wallabies halfback Will Genia.
“I’ll take a lot of confidence knowing I have the benefit of playing outside one of the best scrumhalves in world rugby,” he said.
Lane will also enjoy extra assistance with injured star Quade Cooper filling the role as waterboy, in a sign his own return to the No.10 jersey is imminent.
“He can carry the water out there and if he’s got any advice, that will be useful,” McKenzie said.
Injury-hit Queensland’s selection of two open-side flankers, in Liam Gill and Beau Robinson, in a highly-mobile back-row is just as intriguing as it signals the Reds will try to outpace the big, aggressive Brumbies pack which has shown strong form in their 3-2 start to the season.
“It’s going to be a good strategic game for the fans watching,” he said. “We see opportunity and we’ve picked the team accordingly.”© AAP 2013
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