Rod Davies to start for the Reds
April 10, 2013
Queensland Reds winger Rod Davies is looking to make the most of his opportunity against the Chiefs © Getty Images
Queensland Reds' winger Rod Davies will make his first start in 2013 in the only change made to the line-up for Saturday's round nine Super Rugby clash against the Chiefs in Hamilton.
After recovering from a hamstring suffered injury in the early stages of the year, Davies impressed when coming off the bench in the Reds' bonus-point victory over the Highlanders two weeks ago.
Davies is one of two changes made to the 22-man squad from the 34-33 triumph in Dunedin, with fellow winger Chris Feauai-Sautia returning from a thigh injury to earn his place on the bench.
The Reds come into Saturday's contest in a confident mood, having won five of their seven matches in 2013 and sitting on 26 competition points and only three points behind the competition-leading Chiefs.
The Reds boast an impressive record against the Chiefs, successful in their past three competition fixtures including two victories in Hamilton in 2011 (19-11) and in 2010 (23-18).
Their most recent victory came at Suncorp Stadium last year when the Reds produced a remarkable second-half comeback to turn a 22-8 deficit into an entertaining 42-27 win.
The Reds have won 10 of their past 11 Super Rugby matches against New Zealand opposition, with their only loss coming in a narrow 15-11 encounter away to the Crusaders in 2012.
"Historically we have a proud record against New Zealand opponents while this group is also one that prides itself on their performances against the best teams and on the big stage," McKenzie said. "The Chiefs have been outstanding in their title defence but we'll go into the match with the right mindset and excited about our prospects and the challenge of playing in Hamilton."
McKenzie said the Reds have benefitted from their bye last weekend.
"We used our week off as an opportunity to give players the chance to rest and to take time off from rugby to ensure they are prepared for what will be a difficult eight-game stretch going into the June Test break," he said. "Everyone seems to have responded well to the time off and the players returned to training on Tuesday energised and excited about the challenges that are ahead.
"For this week, we also have a guy like Rod Davies bringing in even more enthusiasm and energy into the group and you know just how eager he is to play well with the opportunity he has been given. With Davies coming in, we are actually reforming the same backline we had in the 2011 Super Rugby final with the exception of Digby, who is only one more week away from returning."
Captain James Horwill will make his third straight start and will be joined by Rob Simmons in the second-row; props Greg Holmes, James Slipper and hooker James Hanson in the front-row; and Eddie Quirk, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz in the backrow.
Playmakers Will Genia and Quade Cooper will call the shots for a backline featuring Ben Tapuai and Anthony Faingaa in the centres, Davies and Dom Shipperley on the wings; and Jono Lance at fullback.
McKenzie has opted for a traditional 4-3 split on the bench, with hooker Albert Anae, prop Ben Daley, lock Ed O'Donoghue, flanker Jarrad Butler, scrum-half Ben Lucas and outside backs Feauai-Sautia and Aidan Toua.
The Reds return to Suncorp Stadium next week for a highly anticipated derby against the Brumbies.
Queensland Reds: Jono Lance; Dom Shipperley, Anthony Faingaa; Ben Tapuai, Rod Davies; Quade Cooper, Will Genia (vc); Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Eddie Quirk; James Horwill (c), Rob Simmons; James Slipper, James Hanson, Greg Holmes. Replacements: Albert Anae, Ben Daley, Ed O'Donoghue, Jarrad Butler, Ben Lucas, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Aidan Toua
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