Daley, Faingaa get the nod

25th Apr 2013, 12:50

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Saia Faingaa: Starts for Reds

Saia Faingaa: Starts for Reds

Hooker Saia Faingaa and prop Ben Daley are the two changes made to the Reds starting line-up for Friday's clash against the Blues.

Hooker Saia Faingaa and prop Ben Daley are the two changes made to the Reds starting line-up for Friday's clash against the Blues at Suncorp Stadium.

The Reds enter this match with the same 22 players who scored three tries to one in a 19-all draw with the Brumbies at the weekend, although Faingaa and Daley come into the starting XV in place of James Hanson and Greg Holmes, who move to the bench.

For Faingaa, it will be his first starting opportunity since Round Five against the Western Force with the dreadlocked hooker also missing two games during this period with an injury to his neck.

Daley, who missed the opening six games due to calf and head injuries, has made three strong cameos from the bench in recent matches against the Highlanders, Chiefs and Brumbies, and now gets his first opportunity of 2013 in the number one jersey.

"The Blues are a very talented side and the short six-day turnaround makes things even more complicated for us, so to be able to maintain continuity in our selections is important," said Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie.

"We keep the same 22 players but are giving Saia and Ben the chance to start and bring something different to our game. They've obviously been frustrated by injuries earlier in the season, so I'm sure they're eager to grab the opportunity they've been given and run with it."

The Queenslanders will be chasing another piece of history on Friday as they look to become the first Reds team in the professional rugby era to sweep their New Zealand opposition in a Super Rugby regular season.

With victories against the Hurricanes, Highlander and Chiefs already in the bag, a win would see the Reds end their 2013 regular season campaign undefeated against the Kiwis.

The opportunity comes after the Reds also ticked off another milestone against the Blues in 2012, with Queensland's 23-11 victory in Round 10 their first-ever at Eden Park in Super Rugby history.

Victory on Friday would also extend the Reds recent strong record against New Zealand teams with Queensland beating their Trans-Tasman rivals in 11 of their past 12 matches.

However, it won't be an easy proposition for the Reds, with the Blues currently sitting second on the ladder and leading the New Zealand Conference following recent impressive wins over the Highlanders (29-18) and the Hurricanes (28-6).

The Blues' impressive season-long form shapes for a highly entertaining match with the Reds also on a roll in attack, where in their past three matches they have recorded consecutive bonus-point victories over the Highlanders (34-33) and Chiefs (31-23) before also scoring on three occasions in their draw with the Brumbies.

"We're a side that takes pride in ticking off new milestones and breaking hoodoos, so we look forward to the challenge of becoming the first Reds team to go unbeaten against the Kiwis during a Super Rugby regular season," McKenzie said.

"We really enjoy the tactical battle against the New Zealand teams, but the Blues are on top of their Conference for a reason and we aren't under any misconceptions about the challenge they will bring to the game tomorrow.

"Sir John Kirwan has done an amazing job turning around their on-field fortunes this season and the match should be a great spectacle for the fans."

Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Ed Quirk, 5 James Horwill (c), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 Saia Faingaa, 1 Ben Daley.
Replacements: 16 James Hanson, 17 Greg Holmes, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Dom Shipperley.

Date: Friday, April 26
Kick-off: 19:40 local (10:40 BST, 09:40 GMT)
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia), Damien Mitchelmore (Australia)
Television match official: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)