Bashed-up Reds ready for Crusaders
THE Reds will go into tonight's final trial match against the Crusaders at Ballymore with a stack of injuries, and a code-hopper directing the team around the paddock at five-eighth.
Apart from missing playmaker Quade Cooper (shoulder), coach Richard Graham is also without star recruit James O'Connor (tonsillitis), as well as Dave McDuling (glute), Eddie Quirk (knee), Rob Simmons (shoulder), Ben Tapuai (hamstring), Lachie Turner (shoulder) and Greg Holmes (thumb).
Despite the long injury list, Graham said he had been happy with his team's preparation for the season.
"We've had a great pre-season. The past few weeks have been interrupted with injuries and illness, but outside of that we've been really happy with the way we've been preparing," Graham said.
He also said while he would have preferred Karmichael Hunt to ease in at fullback, he had decided to give him a chance in the No.10 jersey tonight where he will oppose the best in the business, All Blacks champion Dan Carter.
"He (Hunt) has looked like a five-eighth in a number of things he's done. I had the intent of keeping him at fullback and learning the game there, but he finds himself at 10 this week," Graham said.
The injuries have opened the way for up-and-comers Jamie-Jerry Taulagi to line up at fullback, and fellow 21-year-old Chris Feauai-Sautia to play on the wing, giving them a chance to impress ahead of the team's season-opener against the Brumbies in Canberra next Friday night.
Meanwhile, the NSW Waratahs will take on the Chiefs at Campbelltown Stadium tonight, with former NRL star Sonny Bill Williams expected to start for the New Zealanders.