Reds unleash veteran Samo
May 24, 2013
Radike Samo is set to return after a long road back to full fitness following a knee injury © Getty Images
Japan-bound Wallabies veteran Radike Samo has been returned to the Queensland pack as the Reds aim to break down the strong Stormers defence in Cape Town on Saturday. In his final season of Super Rugby, Samo, 36, has finally returned to fitness after a knee injury that has restricted him to just two appearances off the bench.
Newlands has been a happy hunting ground for the Fiji-born No.8, who played a key role in the Reds' 19-6 upset over the Stormers in 2011, and his inclusion sees Eddie Quirk dropped to the bench with Jake Schatz moving to blindside flanker against the injury-hit Stormers.
Coach Ewen McKenzie said: "Eddie has done a brilliant job for us in starting every game so far this season but Radike will bring a new dimension to the way we play and is also a fresh body to further energise the group following what has been a long stretch of matches. We're nearing the end of what has been an extremely demanding period where we've played 15 games during the past 16 weeks. As such, anytime you get the chance to freshen up and bring new faces into the group at this time of the season is always beneficial. We also know the attributes Radike brings to the game, especially with his ball running, and that can only be advantageous against a Stormers team which has conceded the fewest number of tries in the competition to date."
In the backs, Jono Lance returns from a shoulder injury at fullback, with Luke Morahan shifting to the wing to cover Digby Ioane's absence due to knee bone bruising.
The Reds are coming off a frustrating loss to the Cheetahs, but they have a golden chance to upset the Stormers at Newlands with the hosts missing 15 players through injury.
"Newlands is undoubtedly one of the toughest places to play in Super Rugby but we know what it takes to win here and understand the significance it can have on our 2013 campaign," McKenzie said. "We've only got one more game after this before we break for the June Tests, so it's crucial we get some runs on the board now before returning to Australia."
Lance's inclusion might see playmaker Quade Cooper revert to defending at fullback.
Wallabies and Reds great Tim Horan has called for McKenzie to put Cooper in the front line of defence after Test coach Robbie Deans said that his previous positioning at the back had hurt the No.10's selection hopes for the series against the British & Irish Lions. "There's been no discussions so we'll continue doing what we're doing and what we think is best for this game," McKenzie said.
Reds: Jon Lance; Rod Davies, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Anthony Faingaa, Luke Morahan; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Radike Samo, Liam Gill, Jake Schatz; James Horwill (captain), Rob Simmons; James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Replacements: James Hanson, Ben Daley, Ed O'Donoghue, Eddie Quirk, Beau Robinson, Ben Lucas, Ben Tapuai.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa