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Super Rugby Preview: Reds v Force


Reds head coach Richard Graham has made four changes to his matchday squad for Saturday’s clash with the Western Force in Brisbane.

Two of the changes are to the starting side, with former All Blacks flanker Adam Thomson and Wallabies utility back James O’Connor named to make their Reds debut.

Thomson will start at blindside flanker, with Curtis Browning shifting to the bench. O’Connor has been named starting flyhalf.

On the bench, former Australian Schoolboys and U20s representative Tom Murday replaces Ed O’Donoghue at lock. Murday was part of the Reds Wider Training Squad in 2013 before heading to New Zealand to join ITM Cup side Northland.

He was a member of the Auckland Blues Super Rugby Extended Player Squad last year before returning home to train with the Reds. Should he take the field this weekend it will be his Super Rugby debut.

The other change to the reserves sees utility Sam Johnson come in for Duncan Paia’aua, who has been ruled out following a head knock in last week’s match.

Johnson, a bruising centre, made his Super Rugby debut for the Reds last season and is a member of the club’s Elite Development Squad.

Graham said his side was looking forward to returning to Suncorp Stadium for the first time since July 2014.

“It is great to be back in Brisbane and playing in front of our own supporters at Suncorp Stadium,” he told the Reds official website.

“Last weekend was a poor performance, the group recognise that and they are determined to deliver a strong performance on Saturday.

“Our focus this week has been mainly around getting our set piece and defence right. The game usually flows on the back of controlling the collision zone and they start with those two areas.”

Graham added it was good to finally welcome O’Connor and Thomson in to the match-day squad after the pair missed last week’s opening round match.

“I have been talking for a while now about James and Adam making their debuts for the Reds. With some certainty I can finally say after a good week’s preparation that both of the boys will start this weekend,” he said.

“Adam has only been with the group now two weeks but has fitted in superbly. As a leader and a footballer he has been able to contribute positively to what we are doing.

“James will wear the Number 10 jersey. He has spent the last two weeks training fully with the team and looks settled. He is motivated to help the team around the field and allow the side to find their attacking framework. Karmichael and he will split the role on some first phase and phase attack.

“We have handed out a few debuts in the early rounds. Whilst James and Adam have played Test Rugby, both are enthused by the privilege that comes with wearing the Reds jersey.

“At the other extreme, Tom Murday is making his Super Rugby debut turning 26 later this year. He has put in a lot of hard yards and travelled across the Tasman (playing ITM) to earn this opportunity. The playing group are excited for him and he will enjoy the occasion Saturday night.

“The Force played well last weekend. They were strong defensively and controlled field position well. We know that physicality will play a big part in this match.”

Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk will make his first appearance in the starting XV when the Western Force takes on the Reds at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Van Wyk, who scored the Force’s final try in last weekend’s 25-13 win over the NSW Waratahs, has played three matches off the bench for the Western Australian club, and will pack down alongside Wallabies Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.

The 24-year-old front-rower replaces Pek Cowan, who will be monitored regarding his pending return after scans cleared him of any serious injury having been carried from the field on Sunday.

The other change to the starting XV sees Zack Holmes promoted to full-back in the absence of Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been ruled out with a foot injury.

The reserves list sees two new additions, with prop Chris Heiberg and winger Mitchell Scott in line to make their Super Rugby debuts.

Heiberg was previously a member of the Stormers’ match day squad during the 2013 season prior to joining the Western Force, while Scott is in line for his first opportunity at this level after joining the Western Australian squad from ITM Cup runners-up, the Tasman Makos, at the end of the 2014 season.

Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says his side is ready for another physical encounter against the Reds this weekend.

“Our goal is to maintain the same intensity and attitude while we keep working on certain aspects of our game,” he said. “To that end, we’ve worked hard in preparation knowing the challenge posed by a determined Reds team.”

Foley says the new selections are a reflection of the depth within the Western Force squad.

“Francois and Zack have both worked hard on different aspects of their game over the last 12 months and their contributions against the Waratahs should provide them with confidence in their ability to put in a good performance on Saturday night,” he said.

“Similarly, Chris and Mitch have challenged through pre-season to put themselves in line for selection, and Saturday represents an exciting opportunity for them.”

Last 10 Games played between the Reds and Force
5-Jul-14 Western Force 30 – 20 Reds
5-Apr-14 Reds 29 – 32 Western Force
4-May-13 Western Force 11 – 11 Reds
16-Mar-13 Reds 12 – 19 Western Force
31-Mar-12 Western Force 45 – 19 Reds
3-Mar-12 Reds 35 – 20 Western Force
11-Jun-11 Western Force 21 – 24 Reds
20-Feb-11 Reds 21 – 20 Western Force
14-Mar-10 Reds 50 – 10 Western Force
3-Apr-09 Western Force 39 – 07 Reds
Overall Stats Reds Overall Stats Force
reds1 force1
Games Played 11 Games Played 11
*Games Won 5 *Games Won 5
*Games Lost 5 *Games Lost 5
Games Drawn 1 Games Drawn 1
*Longest.Winning.Streak 4 *Longest.Winning.Streak 2
*Longest Losing Streak 2 *Longest Losing Streak 4
*Largest Points For 50 *Largest Points For 45
*Largest Points Against 45 *Largest Points Against 50
*Largest.Winning.Margin 40 *Largest.Winning.Margin 32
*Largest Losing Margin -32 *Largest Losing Margin -40
*Total Points For 257 *Total Points For 259
*Avg Points For 23.36 *Avg Points For 23.55
*Total Points Against 259 *Total Points Against 257
*Avg Points Against 23.55 *Avg Points Against 23.36
*Total Points Difference -2 *Total Points Difference 2
*Avg Points Difference -0.18 *Avg Points Difference 0.18
* = By Reds * = By Force

Reds: 15 Lachlan Turner, 14 Chris Kuridrani, 13 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Lachie Turner, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Adam Thomson, 5 James Horwill 4 Marco Kotze, 3 Sam Talakai, 2 Saia Fainga’a, 1 James Slipper (c).
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Sef Faagase, 19 Tom Murday, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Sam Johnson, 23 Campbell Magnay.

Force: 15 Zack Holmes, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (c), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Mitchell Scott

Date: Saturday, February 21
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 18:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)





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