Super Rugby injury curse hits Reds again

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie will have to dig deep again in his search for backline replacements after two more backs were injured against the Force.

The Reds snatched a 21-24 victory over the Force in Perth which has qualified them for the second round of the Super Rugby play-offs which gives them a bye in the first play of round.

McKenzie brought in Australian sevens representative Jono Lance for his debut but watched Luke Morahan tear his hamstring and winger Rod Davies injure his shoulder.

Morahan is now expected to miss the rest of the season and Davies is doubful for the Reds clash with the Chiefs in New Zealand on Saturday.

However utility back Digby Ioane could be back this weekend but as Anthony Faingaa, Peter Hynes and Ben Lucas have no chance of playing McKenzie will need to find at least one back.

“We’re into finding replacements again so that will give us something to do next week,” McKenzie told The Age.

“We’ll wait and see what the story is with Digby. That will be a complete medical process there. He might or might not be available.

“Otherwise, we’ll just go to the well again and we’ll find a solution locally.”

It is possible that the Reds could lose to the Chiefs and still finish on top of the standings if the Stormers lose their match against the Cheetahs but McKenzie said it was no time to relax.

“We’ve got some work to do. It’s no time to sit around patting yourself on the back. You’ve just got to get on with it,” he said.

“No doubt we’ll be finding some players and getting them incorporated, so that will be part of the process.

“If we can get in the right territory (by finishing top), ideally you get a week off.

“That would allow a couple of our players that are injured maybe time to come back.

“That would be nice.

“I think everyone understands the logistical challenges of the competition so, if you don’t have to travel, it makes a big difference.

“I think if you look through the history of the tournament, the teams that travel less in the finals do better.

“But, as I say, we (this current group of players) haven’t been to the finals before, so we need to consider how we are going to play better footy.”

Force coach Richard Graham rates the Reds as title favourites despite their horror injury toll.

“The thing I’ve liked about them this year is they’ve had a plan and they’ve stuck with it,” Graham said.

“I’d put them down as frontrunners at this stage.

“Their forward pack and nine and 10 are intact, and that’s the most important thing.

“Finals are about position and possession and I thought they did that well.”

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