QR Reds’ captain Sam Cordingley has been ruled out of Saturday’s Super 14 match against South Africa’s unbeaten Sharks in Durban and will be replaced at scrumhalf by Academy rookie Ben Lucas.
Reds Rugby reports that head Coach Phil Mooney said fullback Chris Latham will lead the side in the absence of Cordingley, who failed to recover sufficiently from a calf injury suffered in last weekend’s 24-24 draw with the Lions.
Lucas will run on in the number 9 jersey for the first time, with Will Genia taking Lucas’s spot on the bench after being flown over this week as a precaution.
Mooney said he hoped Cordingley would be fit in time for the following week’s match against the Cheetahs, but had full confidence in the ability of Lucas to step up to the challenge.
“Benny has handled every challenge we’ve given him – including broadening his skills to cover halfback in addition to flyhalf. We have every confidence he’ll do a great job for us against the Sharks. This is a fitting reward for the hard work and perseverance he’s shown since being drafted into the Reds’ training program during the pre-season,” Mooney said.
Queensland Rugby announced on Monday that Lucas had been signed to a fulltime, two year contract with the Reds for 2009-10.
Lucas, 21, has an impressive rugby resume having represented his state and country at schoolboy level and in the Australian Sevens team in 2007.
A gifted playmaker and goal kicker who claimed a personal tally of 35 points, including two tries, in Sunnybank’s record 85-19 win over the Gold Coast in the 2007 Trinity Premier Rugby Grand Final, Lucas went on to excel for the MFS East Coast Aces in the Mazda Australian Rugby Championship, being named that team’s player of the tournament.
“Benny has come right through the pathway to the Reds. He’s a great advertisement for our development program,” said Mooney.
The QR Reds team:
Starting XV: Chris Latham (c), Clinton Schifcofske, Morgan Turinui, Berrick Barnes, Peter Hynes, Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas, Leroy Houston, David Croft, John Roe, James Horwill, Van Humphries, Dayna Edwards, Stephen Moore, Greg Holmes.
Reserves: Sean Hardman, Rodney Blake, Ed O’Donoghue, Poutasi Luafutu, Will Genia, Charlie Fetoai, Digby Ioane