The Queensland Reds have unveiled a group of players responsible for defending their Super Rugby trophy in 2012.
The squad was showcased to a capacity audience of more than 1000 guests attending the Reds Gala on Saturday night at the Brisbane Entertainment and Convention Centre and included 27 players from the 2011 fulltime playing roster.
The new additions to the squad include the promotion of QAS Reds Academy talents Jono Lance, Aidan Toua and David McDuling, along with the signing of 17-year-old schoolboy prodigy Chris Feauai-Sautia.
The selection of the final 30-man roster and the naming of five Academy players will be made before the 2012 Super Rugby season commences and once more clarity is known around off-contract winger Digby Ioane and long-term injured fullback Peter Hynes.
Ioane is in negotiations with the ARU on his playing career and is expected to finalise his decision shortly, while Hynes recently underwent major reconstructive surgery on his knee which included a meniscus transplant.
"We believe Queensland is the best environment for Digby to continue his career not only with the Reds, but with the Wallabies, and are confident he will choose to stay, " Head Coach Ewen McKenzie said.
"Hynes is a major unknown at this stage considering the complexity of his surgery, so we’re playing a waiting game until we have more clarity and can evaluate how his knee responds during rehab.
"It’s a complicated issue and our focus is on ensuring he gets back to a normal level of knee function. At this point in time he is a long way from us being able to consider him for rugby training. "
McKenzie said he was pleased to see such ‘continuity’ among the playing group.
"Player recruitment and retention has been a high priority since I came onboard at the Reds and to see such continuity with our 2011 squad is a major positive. Players want to stay in Queensland and be part of our journey, " he said.
"We’ve got an extremely talented group of individuals but what makes this bunch so unique is their character, resolve and willingness to learn. The players are already speaking about next season and are determined to keep the trophy in Queensland. "
Outside back Feauai-Sautia has enjoyed an illustrious schoolboy Rugby career and will graduate from Brisbane State High School later this year with a distinguished resume that includes being a standout member of the National Gold Squad for the past three years and both a Queensland and Australian Schoolboy representation.
Feauai-Sautia was a standout with the Australian Schoolboys during their tour of New Zealand in 2010 and UK in 2009 and will now play his third and final year on home soil later this year.
2012 Queensland Reds Squad
Date of Birth: 17.11.1993
Place of Birth: Auckland, New Zealand
School: Brisbane State High School