THE REDS have a major crisis at first five ahead of their clash with the Bulls, with Mike Harris and Ben Lucas being forced to return home from South Africa after sustaining hamstring injuries during the side’s loss to the Sharks yesterday.
Their spots in the side have been taken by young backs Joel Rapana and Nathan Eyres-Brown.
The loss of Harris and Lucas – who join star pivot Quade Cooper (knee) in the medical ward – leaves the Reds well short of experience at first five ahead of this weekend’s clash against the Bulls.
“Losing your two healthy goalkickers and playmakers at the number 10 position is far from an ideal scenario, but we’ll reassess in coming days and come up with a plan best suited for our final game on tour against the Bulls,” says coach Ewen McKenzie.
Rapana, 25, represented Queensland A in its final two games of this year’s Pacific Rugby Cup and played one Super Rugby game for the Force against the Hurricanes in 2010.
Rapana was also contracted to the Gold Coast Titans rugby league team in 2007-08 after enjoying a prolific junior career in the 13-man game, which included Australia Schoolboy selection in 2004.
Eyres-Brown, 22, is a member of the Reds’ wider training squad and has previously played for the Australian Sevens squad.
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.