RICHARD FERGUSON updates keo.co.za followers of the latest Super Rugby news from Australia.
Junior Genia to the rescue
Nigel Genia, brother to the legendary Will Genia, might see Super Rugby game time this weekend for the Reds.
The Reds are without Will Genia at scrumhalf, and Ben Lucas left the field injured against the Hurricanes last weekend, and might have to turn to junior Genia to fill the gap. Nick Frisby is likely to start the match against the Rebels this weekend, but if Lucas does not train in time, Nigel will get a spot on the bench.
Other likely changes to the Reds team will be in midfield, where Anthony Fainga’a is set to return from injury, while Mike Harris is set to get his fullback jersey back, after youngsters Chris Feauai-Sautia and Aidan Toua were rewarded for preseason form.
O’Connor shifts to pivot
Rebels coach Damien Hill had no choice but to move James O’Connor from fullback to flyhalf, replacing the injured Kurtley Beale.
O’Connor will lead the backline against the Reds this weekend, playing their fourth Australian derby match in as many weeks.
Other changes to the backline sees Angus Roberts making his debut at fullback, while a shuffle sees winger Mitchell starting in midfield and Alex Rokobaro gets arun on the wing.
O’Connor will continue as captain of the side in the absence of Gareth Delve.
Rebels: 15 Angus Roberts, 14 Richard Kingi, 13 Mitch Inman, 12 Lachlan Mitchell, 11 Alex Rokobaro, 10 James O’Connor (c), 9 Nick Phipps, 8 Scott Higginbotham, 7 Scott Fuglistaller, 6 Luke Jones, 5 Cadeyrn Neville, 4 Hugh Pyle, 3 Laurie Weeks, 2 Ged Robinson, 1 Nic Henderson. Substitutes: 16 Shota Horie, 17 Paul Alo-Emile, 18 Jordy Reid, 19 Jarrod Saffy, 20 Nic Stirzaker, 21 Rory Sidey, 22 Tom English.
Smith, Pocock partnership confirmed
Brumbies coach Jake White has confirmed that George Smith will start the match against the Waratahs on the bench, but will get to run in tandem with David Pocock later in the match.
Smith’s return has been hailed as a masterclass by the Australian press, Jake White the mastermind behind it all.
White explained his decision to start Smith on the bench, stating that he wants Smith and Pocock to run side by side for a while, before bringing Pocock off. He is wary of the fact that Pocock cannot play 80 minutes of rugby every week.
Waratahs lose Palu, gain Barnes
The Waratahs are having a nightmare injury run as news came through that Wycliff Palu will miss the match against the Brumbies with an ankle injury.
While coach Michael Cheika rues the loss of Palu, he is hopeful of a return from injury for Berrick Barnes. Barnes needs to pass a fitness test to prove his fitness, and is likely to make an appearance off the bench.
There was further good news on the injury front as Pat McCutcheon is back in the selection frame after dislocating an ankle a year ago.