Reds v Hurricanes preview

Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, 19.40 (09.40 GMT)

The Reds are not being given much of a chance, based on their lack of resources and some pretty indifferent pre-season form. In fact most pundits feel they will do well to get a top 10 finish in the competition.

That means new coach Eddie Jones and his charges have nothing to lose.

However, the big question is how will they cope without injured Wallaby fullback Chris Latham (out for the season)?

No doubt this will place the spotlight firmly on Rugby League convert Clinton Schifcofske – who in the pre-season showed that he is a solid goal-kicker, but did not produce any of the magical counter-attacking skills that Latham has become so famous for.

The Hurricanes – minus Jerry Collins, Jason Eaton, Andrew Hore, Chris Masoe and Rodney So’oialo (on All Black conditioning duty) – will look to centre Conrad Smith (the new captain) for guidance. He leads a team that has eight players in the match-day 22 that will be making their Hurricanes debuts.

The biggest changes to the side is at loose forward, where former Chiefs star Nili Latu joins No.8 Thomas Waldrom and blindside flank Luke Andrews in the absence of Masoe, Collins and So’oialo.

The Hurricanes’ strength has always been their hard-running loose forwards and this could be the key to the game – how the new back row combination performs for the visitors.

And with Australian teams notorious for their poor scrumming, the spotlight will also be firmly on the front row battle – with Hurricanes props Neemia Tialata and John Schwalger up against Wallaby props Rodney Blake and Greg Holmes.

Other key players for the visitors could be first five-eighth (No.10) Jimmy Gopperth and powerful midfielder Ma’a Nonu (at inside centre).

The other interesting feature is former All Black captain Tana Umaga, who will hope to add to his record 111 Hurricanes caps, who sits on the replacement bench.

Prediction: Even without their All Blacks the Hurricanes look to be too strong for the erratic Reds. The Hurricanes by about 15 points.


Reds: 15 Clinton Schifcofske, 14 Henari Veratau, 13 Ben Tune, 12 Andrew Brown, 11 Peter Hynes, 10 Berrick Barnes, 9 Nic Berry, 8 John Roe (captain), 7 David Croft, 6 Mitch Chapman, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 James Horwill, 3 Rodney Blake, 2 Sean Hardman, 1 Greg Holmes
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Ben Coutts, 18 Ed O’Donoghue, 19 Tom McVerry, 20 Will Genia, 21 Charlie Fetoai, 22 Brando Va’alu

Hurricanes: 15 Cory Jane, 14 Hosea Gear, 13 Conrad Smith (c), 12 Ma’a Nonu, 11 David Smith, 10 Jimmy Gopperth 9 Chris Smylie; 8 Thomas Waldrom, 7 Nili Latu, 6 Luke Andrews, 5 Bernie Upton, 4 Paul Tito, 3 Neemia Tialata, 2 Tone Kopelani, 1 John Schwalger.
Replacements: 16 Mahonri Schwalger, 17 Tim Fairbrother, 18 Bradley Mika, 19 Serge Lilo, 20 Alby Mathewson, 21 Tamati Ellison, 22 Tana Umaga.

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa)
Touch judges: Christie du Preez (South Africa), Stuart Dickinson (Australia)
Television match official: James Leckie (Australia)

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