Prop Rodney Blake has been recalled to the Queensland Reds starting side to add some grunt for their clash with Super 14 heavyweights the Chiefs at Hamilton on Saturday.
RugbyHeaven Aus reports that skipper Sam Cordingley (calf) has failed to overcome injury and will sit out the match, allowing young lock James Horwill to retain the captaincy reins.
Winger Digby Ioane returns from a broken finger sustained on the South African tour and will start on the bench.
Blake’s size has been added to a Reds starting side that faces what Reds coach Phil Mooney rates as the toughest assignment in Super 14 – tackling the Chiefs at home.
The Chiefs are riding high after an 18-5 win over the previously unbeaten Crusaders last Friday night.
But Queensland won’t be lacking confidence after their upset 29-12 victory over the Western Force at Suncorp Stadium last round – Horwill’s captaincy debut.
“It’s a blow for Sam (Cordingley), who was desperate to play, but we didn’t want to risk him at this stage of the season with Wallaby selections just around the corner,” Mooney said.
“And we’re fortunate to have great backup at scrumhalf in Ben Lucas and Will Genia, and a standby skipper who’s on a roll.”
Blake earned his recall with a strong performance off the bench against the Force.
“Rodney brought real enthusiasm into the game in the second half on Friday night and we want him to do the same from the kickoff on Saturday,” Mooney said.
Mooney said wingers Peter Hynes and Brando Va’aulu had earned the right to start the match ahead of Ioane, who replaces Andrew Walker on the bench.
Queensland Reds team: Clinton Schifcofske, Brando Va’aulu, Morgan Turinui, Berrick Barnes, Peter Hynes, Quade Cooper, Ben Lucas, Leroy Houston, David Croft, John Roe, James Horwill (c), Van Humphries, Rodney Blake, Stephen Moore, Ben Coutts.
Reserves: Sean Hardman, Dayna Edwards, Ed O’Donoghue, Poutasi Luafutu, Will Genia, Charlie Fetoai, Digby Ioane.