MIKE HARRIS and Ben Lucas will share the playmaking duties when the Queensland Reds take on the Brumbies in their pre-season clash in Cairns this Saturday.
With incumbent first five Quade Cooper expected to miss the side’s first six or seven Super Rugby games, these two are shaping as the leading candidates to run the cutter for the defending champions while the Wallaby pivot is recovering in the sick-bay.
Harris will start the match at Barlow Park with Lucas to see game time off the bench.
“Mike and Ben both bring different qualities to the game, but the reality is we need more than one option at each position, so it’s important they both put their best foot forward on Saturday,” says coach Ewen McKenzie.
The Reds have picked a 30-man squad, with 2011 Wallabies Rob Simmons, Beau Robinson, Radike Samo and Ben Tapuai in the starting XV and Scott Higginbotham, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia and James Slipper on the bench.
McKenzie says he is eager to see how the players step up in the trials, with those matches to determine who will gain starting spots for the season-opener against the Waratahs in Sydney on February 25.
“Since I've been here we’ve never enjoyed more depth within our squad than now, so performance is going to be a huge factor on who is selected for round one.”
Meanwhile, young lock David McDuling will miss the Reds’ 2012 campaign with a torn ACL. He will undergo surgery next week.
“Dave was one of a number of young men really impressing coaches during the pre-season and it’s devastating to see this sort of injury knowing how much hard work he has put in,” says McKenzie.
“We believe he is a player of the future and are looking forward to seeing him back at full strength and making the impact we know he can next year.”
Queensland Reds: Dallan Murphy, Dom Shipperley, Jono Lance, Ben Tapuai, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Mike Harris, Nick Frisby; Radike Samo, Beau Robinson, Eddie Quirk, Adam Wallace-Harrison, Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, Albert Anae, Ben Daley (c)
Reserves: Kevin Davis, James Hanson, Scott Higginbotham, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Saia Faingaa, Will Genia, Liam Gill, Ben Lucas, Luke Morahan, Jake Schatz, Guy Shepherdson, James Slipper, Ulupano Seuteni, Aidan Toua
There are plenty of mouth-watering clashes on offer this weekend.
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