Reds v. Brumbies Preview

Reds v. Brumbies Preview

In their last two games the Reds have taken on the top two Kiwi teams and come away with two wins. They played one of those games in front of an Australian Super Rugby record crowd — surely the highlight of any Super Rugby team’s season. It certainly took a bit out of this old punter; I can only imagine how I would feel if I actually had to run out and play instead of juggling a beer and a kebab while watching these epic matches unfold.

Wouldn’t it be great if they could have a little rest before the next match? But no, Ewen McKenzie has had the unenviable task of getting his team up again to take on what can be considered the Reds’ bogey team. The Reds have a 2–15 win-loss record against the Brumbies. Even with the 2011 Reds flying high and the Brumbies self-destructing, it’s a lot of baggage to take into any game. The only bright spot in that record is the fact that one of those wins was their last outing against the former champs.

Dreadless Ben is ready for action

The Reds have elected to bring Ben Coridas in as a direct replacement for the unlucky Beau Robinson, even though Liam Gill will arrive home from Italy sometime Thursday morning. The rest of the team is the same as last week. Coridas will chase the ball all night and should balance the back row nicely. At 194 centimetres and 107 kilograms, he’s midget. The Reds’ back row has been in globally comparable form and it’s hoped the loss of Robinson will not disrupt Scott Higginbotham and Radike Samo’s mojo too much.

For the Brumbies, Colby Faingaa and Michael Hooper are in Italy on junior world cup duty, further weakening a back row that’s already missing Elsom and Hoiles (remember him?). The disruptions to both back rows makes this one of the few areas where Queensland are not clear favourites.

Without Salesi Ma’afu the Brumbies scrum doesn’t look anywhere near as scary as the last time the teams met. Slipper will have the measure of Owen, and Daley will do better against Alexander than the doubters believe. Which leaves Saia Faingaa against Stephen Moore. Moore should come out ahead of Faingaa, but I wouldn’t write off the younger hooker just yet. He is still on the steep incline of his learning curve and is getting better every game. And the lineout wake up call the Crusaders delivered last week should put paid to Stephen Moore’s lineout domination theories.

The Brumbies are set to continue their lucky dip five eighth policy with Matt Giteau drawing the prize envelope this week. The constant changing of backline positions can’t be helping the players. It must be nearly impossible to get any sort of rhythm going when you don’t know who is running the show each week. The Reds halves are on fire and Phibbs and Giteau will have to play several levels above their 2011 form to come anywhere near the Reds dynamic duo.

In the centres Anthony Faingaa has had an instant connection with Ben Tapuai. The two have been running around like seasoned veterans who have played together for years. Mike Harris is set to return very soon and it will be interesting to see who ends up with the No. 12 jersey come finals time. Mike’s boot must give him an advantage in that race. They are opposing Christian Lealiifano and Tyrone Smith, two very good players who have suffered from the Brumbies’ rollercoaster selection policy. Smith and Faingaa are similar players: both started at 12 and have been pushed to outside centre to fit players into the side, and both have made a pretty good fist of it. Tapuai and Lealiifano is an interesting match-up: both young exciting footballers, both trying to establish themselves on the big stage. This could be the best contest of the game.

Matt Giteau, very cute according to my daughter. This one’s for you, Teea.

Lealiifano has been pushed out one from five-eighth to make way for Matt Giteau. Much has been said of Giteau’s desire to play at 10 and I have nothing to add except to say ‘go for it!’ Just not for the Wallabies! Keep it at the Brumbies,mate.

On to the outside backs: Digby Ioane and Luke Morahan up against Adam Ashley-Cooper and Henry Speight. Speight has been impressive, from what I have seen. Ashley-Cooper is always dangerous but seems a little uninterested. Ioane has been everywhere making more metres than just about everyone. He is just impressively hungry for work. Morahan, who is dangerous in his own right, gets forgotten in the shadow of Ioane’s work rate.

Which leaves us with two very good fullbacks. Pat McCabe and Ben Lucas have both had impressive years, McCabe for his no-nonsense ball running and Lucas for his no-nonsense tackling. A match-up made in heaven.

When I set out to write this article I thought the Reds had a clear advantage. But looking at the teams man on man, I soon realised that the XVs are pretty evenly matched. So why are the Reds first and the Brumbies thirteenth? A lot of the credit must go to Ewen McKenzie, Matt Taylor, Jim McKay and the rest of the Reds staff. They have built belief into the players, given them a structure to grow into and formed the playing group into a formidable team. They believe in each other, and in the defensive and attacking patterns they help construct. Now I don’t pretend to have any inside knowledge of either Union other than what I’ve learned through Green and Gold Rugby, but from here it seems the Brumbies just don’t have that sort of belief. And that’s why even if I disregard my man-love for all things Queensland Red, I still have to say the Reds will win this one by 15+.

The Reds are:

1. Ben Daley
2. Saia Faingaa
3. James Slipper
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill
6. Scott Higginbotham
7. Ben Coridas
8. Radike Samo
9. Will Genia
10. Quade Cooper
11. Digby Ioane
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Anthony Faingaa
14. Luke Morahan
15. Ben Lucas

16. James Hanson
17. Greg Holmes
18. Adam Wallace-Harrison
19. Jake Schatz
20. Ian Prior
21. Will Chambers
22. Dom Shipperley


The Brumbies are:

1. Jono Owen
2. Stephen Moore
3. Ben Alexander
4. Ben Hand
5. Mark Chisholm
6. Mitchell Chapman
7. Julian Salvi
8. Ita Vaea
9. Patrick Phibbs
10. Matt Giteau
11. Adam Ashley-Cooper
12. Christian Lealiifano
13. Tyrone Smith
14. Henry Speight
15. Pat McCabe

16. Anthony Hegarty
17. Jerry Yanuyanutawa
18. Peter Kimlin
19. Henry Vanderglas
20. Nic White
21. Robbie Coleman
22. Andrew Smith

The Referees should be:

Referee: Garratt Williamson
Assistant referees: Ian Smith, Simon Moore
Television match official: Steve Lesczcynski


G&GR congratulates Nic White on his call-up to the Brumbies squad and Ben Coridas for his call-up to the Reds squad.

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Just another Rugby tragic. Shane "Sully" Sullivan has been in man love with the game since high school in the 70's. He inflicts his passion on family and anyone who will listen. He can't guarantee unbiased opinion but he can tell you the Reds are Awesome! To read non-rugby content head to

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