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Reds start debutant wing

03rd April 2014 06:21

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Jamie Jerry Taulagi Reds Super Rugby training session

Super Rugby debut: Jamie-Jerry Taulagi

Livewire Jamie-Jerry Taulagi will make his Super Rugby debut this weekend after being named on the wing for the Reds' match against the Western Force.

Taulagi's addition is one of two changes to the starting side that defeated the Stormers last weekend, with injuries to Dom Shipperley (hip flexor) and Lachie Turner (ankle) forcing a shuffle in the back three.

Taulagi will play on the wing, while Ben Lucas will earn his first start of the season at full-back.

Queensland Premier Grade player Taulagi scored 13 tries from 13 outings for University of Queensland in 2013 before signing a two-year deal with the Reds.

Reds coach Richard Graham said Taulagi's addition to the side would provide them with another potent attacking threat, while Lucas had offered much as a replacement wing against the Stormers last weekend.

"The Reds have a strong history of giving opportunity to young players," said Graham.

"JJ has had a solid six months of preparation, understands his role within the team clearly and as such will do a very good job. His appearance against the Rebels in pre-season was a strong indication of what he is capable of.

"Ben has played in a number of positions for the Reds. He offers a broad skill set, is one of the most competitive guys I have come across and loves playing in the red jersey. His experience this weekend will be important in the back field."

On the replacements bench, two young Queenslanders stand to earn their first caps for Queensland, with former Australian Under-20s Pettowa Paraka and Jonah Placid named to cover prop and outside back respectively.

"Pettowa and Jonah are other examples of our program producing quality young footballers," Graham said.

"Pettowa has worked extremely hard physically over the past six months and technically has applied himself to his development as a loosehead prop. Jonah is the youngest in our squad, but I was impressed with his time against the Chiefs in pre-season. He gave a really good account of himself, particularly in defence."

In another milestone this weekend, Rod Davies will play his 50th cap for Queensland.

"Rocket (Rod) has been part of the Reds now since 2009 and after overcoming a significant injury last season, it is great reward for his dedication and discipline. He is a speed machine and I am keen to see him play Saturday night," Graham said.

"Whilst we expect good performances from our debutants, we also expect that the remainder of the squad will make the necessary adjustments to their own game and assist making the transition easier. We have Greg Holmes, who has played over 100 games for the Reds, along with Horwill, Genia and Cooper in the 90s and plenty more experience within the team."

The Reds and Force have met 11 times in Super Rugby, with Queensland's ledger sitting at six wins, four losses and one draw. The two sides met twice in 2013, with the Force winning the first encounter 19-12 in Brisbane and drawing the second 11-11 in Perth.

Reds: 15 Ben Lucas, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Mike Harris, 11 Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Beau Robinson, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 Greg Holmes, 2 James Hanson, 1 James Slipper
Replacements: 16 Albert Anae, 17 Pettowa Paraka, 18 Jono Owen, 19 Ed O'Donoghue, 20 Curtis Browning, 21 Nick Frisby, 22 Anthony Fainga'a, 23 Jonah Placid

Date: Saturday, April 5
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 18.40 local (08.40 GMT)
Referee: Garratt Williamson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: James Leckie (Australia), Ian Smith (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)

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