A mid-air collision at training has left in disarray Queensland’s plans to muzzle New South Wales spearhead Lote Tuqiri at Suncorp Stadium this weekend.
Jim Tucker writes in the Courier Mail that winger Brando Va’aulu limped away from training at Ballymore on crutches after rolling his left ankle and copping a knock to the left knee when in an airborne joust for a kick with Caleb Brown.
Ironically, it will be speedster Brown, 21, who will come into the starting side for the first time since 2006 if Va’aulu’s injuries stiffen up and prevents him from training Friday.
“I really want to be out there testing myself against Tuqiri. I’ll just have to see how the ankle comes up,” Va’aulu said.
Brown, rather than veteran Andrew Walker, was preferred as a bench selection earlier in the day to cover for the suspended Digby Ioane.
It was a huge vote of confidence in Va’aulu’s 2008 progress that he should be selected to mark Australia trump Tuqiri, the leading tackle-buster and ground-gainer for the Waratahs.
If he is ruled out, the Reds selectors should consider reassigning the in-form Hynes to Tuqiri’s wing.
It was Hynes’s rattling defence on Tuqiri in the 23-7 victory over NSW at Suncorp Stadium in 2003 that helped energise the Reds that night.
Half-back Sam Cordingley ran strongly in the team run to confirm his return in the reserves after missing four games with calf trouble.
The session’s energy was appreciated on the sidelines by a roll call of former Reds luminaries including Tim Horan, Rod McCall, Chris Handy, Mark Connors, Paul McLean, Greg Martin and Paul Carozza.
Prop Rodney Blake, back from suspension, will add impact from the bench behind a Reds front row that must keep varying its methods to disrupt the impressive NSW scrum.
NSW prop Matt Dunning (calf) is expected to return to the Waratahs line-up.
Western Force playmaker Matt Giteau is eager to end an undulating season at fly half on a high against his former ACT Brumbies teammates in Perth.
“It has been difficult for me, the first time I have played a full season at flyhalf and also vice-captaincy,” Giteau said. “It is nothing I am complaining about; you have got to be prepared for it and play football. Tackling, getting hit late is all part of football – you have just got to take it.
“You probably want to go a little harder against your old team. So I’ll be keen to see what they’ve got for me and keen to see what I can do.”
Gold Coast product James O’Connor has earned a second shot at inside centre for the Force.Tweet