Already reeling from skipper James Slipper’s season-ending injury, Queensland have also flown Quade Cooper home as they brace for the Super Rugby playmaker’s SANZAAR judiciary hearing.
Cooper faces a dangerous-tackle charge after being sent off for his 49th-minute hit on Rohan Janse van Rensburg as the centre crashed over for one of many Lions tries in Johannesburg.
He will front the judiciary at 1700 (AEDT) on Tuesday.
Cooper has had disciplinary issues in the past – he missed the 2012 semi-final against the Sharks due to a ban.
And the fact Cooper has been flown home to Brisbane and not on to Argentina for Sunday’s clash with the Jaguares indicates Queensland are expecting another suspension.
“In the second half, the red card to Quade made it extremely difficult only having 14 men out there against a team that can move the ball exceptionally well and play with a lot of pace,” said Queensland coach Nick Stiles, after the Reds arrived in Buenos Aires.
Jake McIntyre is already a confirmed starter at No.10 for Cooper against the Jaguares with Henry Taefu as cover.
Former Brisbane NRL flyer Lachlan Maranta has been called into the Reds’ squad.
“Quade started for us and played every minute at 10 for us until the red card,” Stiles said.
“But (McIntyre) played basically the full season at 10 for us last year.
“That experience, plus the hard work he has done the last four to six months to improve his game, it creates a good chance for him to step up at 10.”
Cooper flew home with Slipper, who ruptured an achilles tendon in the Lions’ romp at Ellis Park.
Stiles tried to find a silver lining to Slipper’s devastating injury.
“It is disappointing for James. He put a lot of work into this year and looked forward to being at the forefront of a much-better season for the Reds,” Stiles said.
“But we are extremely lucky to have the current Wallabies’ skipper Stephen Moore.
“To have someone of his experience to step up and take over the captaincy is a luxury we have.
“He will continue his work towards driving cultural change in this group.
“He will get a chance to lay a firm footprint on this side; create some really good habits which will set us up for future success.”
Queensland at one point were down to 13 men against the Lions when Cooper was sent off after Slipper’s first-half injury and winger Eto Nabuli’s 45th-minute yellow card.
The Lions piled on another four tries in Cooper’s absence to seal the bonus-point victory.
“We were extremely disappointed with how we played last weekend,” Stiles said.
“But we came on this tour of Africa and Argentina to pick up a win and the boys are very committed to chasing that this weekend.”