Preview: Reds v Hurricanes
Thursday, April 23, 2015 James Mortimer Getty Images
Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Played: 18 (1996-2014, DNP 2012)
Reds wins: 6
Hurricanes wins: 12
Reds points: 407
Hurricanes points: 558
Last match: Hurricanes 35 Reds 21, 26.04.14 in Wellington
Round 11 teams: http://bit.ly/1QmWaLs
Form: It has been a campaign that Queensland’s faithful would rather forget, winning just two from nine so far in 2015, with their 18-17 victory over the Cheetahs last weekend breaking a six game losing streak.
Already looking at a 2016 where many of the 2011 title winners will depart (although James Slipper, Rob Simmons and Nick Frisby extended their contracts this week), the Reds simply need to win as the bottom three are in a danger zone where another defeat will kill off their mathematical chances of qualifying for the finals.
However their record against the ‘Canes of late is very poor, with just three victories this millennium, while the tourists have won 11 over the same period.
The Hurricanes form is excellent, a couple more wins will all but confirm their entry into the Super Rugby Finals Series for 2015, while they have claimed victories in Brisbane two times in during their last three visits dating back to 2007.
Remarkably, considering how diligently Chris Boyd’s men have prepared defensively, reflected in their position as one of the tournament’s best sides, they have still scored 26 tries, second overall.
With some rest for key All Blacks still due, the Hurricanes coaching staff have decided against this, perhaps believing that with three home matches after their trip to Queensland that they can confirm a finals spot and then look to freshen up their Test contingent.
Key Players: The Reds win last week showed us all a little reminder about how resilient these men in maroon can be, with Will Genia putting in a performance to rebuke the critics, while James O'Connor is beginning to find the form that made him a first choice Wallaby.
James Horwill has been under flak, like many of the Queenslanders, but he used his big frame to ideal effect against the Cheetahs, and he and the abrasive Rob Simmons would like to get on top of their rivals in yellow.
Former All Black and Highlander Adam Thomson, the most effective lineout taking back row forward this season, will again clash with some old team mates.
The Hurricanes backline has Jane lurking in the reserves, and while James Marshall might not be as electric as his replacement, he will add an extra kicking option to the team.
Beauden Barrett's attack stats with ball in hand have been sublime of late, while the triple frontline All Black punch of Savea, Nonu and Smith would have had time to reflect how the Waratahs got the edge on them last week.
Ardie Savea's battle with Liam Gill, two of the fastest opensides in Super Rugby, will delight purists, but the scrum may hold the key.
Reg Goodes has been an unsung warrior this year, while Ben Franks has been one of the best signings for a franchise known to have a soft underbelly up front at times.
No longer can that statement be said, with centurion Jeremy Thrush in good form to add further steel to the tight five, while Brad Shields is by the numbers the hardest working of the Wellington based forwards.
Squad Update: Reds head coach Richard Graham has made four changes, with injury forcing two of the changes, with Curtis Browning (knee) and Karmichael Hunt (adductor) ruled out of the match after suffering injuries against the Cheetahs.
In the forwards, recent debutant Adam Korczyk will make his starting debut at blindside flanker, in place of the injured Browning.
The other three changes are in the backs, where the injury to Hunt has forced a reshuffle, with veteran utility Lachie Turner shifting from wing to fullback, Chris Feauai-Sautia going from outside centre to wing and Anthony Fainga’a brought back into the starting side at inside centre.
While Victor Vito (calf), Dane Coles (elbow), and Blade Thomson (concussion) remain on the injury list, the Hurricanes arrive in the Sunshine State with a full arsenal.
A minor calf injury to Nehe Milner-Skudder has left him out of selection contention, resulting in James Marshall starting at fullback, while Matt Proctor replaces Cory Jane who moves to the pine.
Please note: Immediately prior to kick off a match page with dynamic timeline, stats and player numbers will launch, check back at superrugby.co.nz or allblacks.com for your handy guide to the game when the kick off whistle blows!
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