TEAM NEWS: Winger Campbell to make starting debut for Reds
- September 16, 2019
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Winger Jock Campbell is set to make his starting debut with the Reds in a clash against the Sunwolves that could determine their finals fate.
The Sunwolves match starts a run of three consecutive conference games for the Reds, who could clinch an Australian league win if they are able to beat the Japanese visitors and then win derbies against the conference-leading Rebels and Waratahs.
They will have to do that without young winger Jack Hardy, who ruptured his ACL in the clash against the Sharks, an injury that ends his Super Rugby season and hopes of representing the Junior Wallabies at the U20 world championships in Argentina.
With fellow three-quarters Jordan Petaia (foot) and Filipo Daugunu (broken arm) also on the longterm injury list, the Reds have called on University of Queensland flyer Campbell to fill the void following two appearances off the bench in South Africa.
Brothers outside back Seb Wileman has been named on the bench and has the chance to make his Super Rugby debut.
A former Sydney Shute Shield star for Warringah, Wileman made the move to Queensland in the off-season after failing to get a contract with the Waratahs.
The Reds have an otherwise unchanged line-up from the one that beat the Sharks in Durban to keep their super rugby season alive.
Defence coach Peter Ryan said everyone had deserved to retain their spot.
“They were fantastic against the Sharks – in my view, we were diabolical against the Bulls but it’s a tough place to play in Pretoria,” he said.
The Reds were also “diabolical” in the opening half against the Sunwolves in Tokyo in their round five clash in March before turning things around to notch the first win of the season.
“The second half was pretty special to get away with the win over there, especially in another country,” Ryan said.
Despite that victory, the Reds know the mercurial Sunwolves remain a danger, not just to the match result but to their shape of their season overall.
“They can get anyone,” Ryan said.
“They nearly got the Hurricanes, they got the Waratahs – so the teams they’ve played haven’t been gumbies by any (means).
“Their efforts and their understanding of the game and the way they want to play it under Tony Brown, he’s a smart coach and they play a great game of footy.”
Ryan conceded the next three weeks was “make or break” but the Reds had to keep their focus on Friday’s clash.
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“We’re in full understanding of what we need to do but we need to focus game to game – I know that’s a cliché, take it one game at the time, but that’s what we have to do.”
Ryan would not be drawn on whether that focus could be shifted by recent controversy over players’ social media posts.
In the wake of Israel Folau’s “hell awaits” Instagram post, any reference to religion from players is being unfairly framed as reactionary.
Reds captain Samu Kerevi’s recent “apology” for his faith on social media was a retort to a Fox Sports report he felt criticised him for expressing his beliefs after playing on Good Friday.
Unfortunately, his response seemed to have been seen as serious remorse in some quarters, leading teammate Taniela Tupou to become the latest player under the spotlight after he took to Facebook on Tuesday night.
“Might as well sack me and all the other Pacific Islands rugby players around the world because we have the same Christian beliefs,” he said.
“I will never apologise for my faith and what I believe in.”
Ryan said he was unaware of the post.
“I have no comment about what’s taken place in terms of social media, I have no knowledge on that and I don’t have a comment on it at all,” he said.
“We focus everything we do as coaches on the team and what we can control. And I can’t control those sorts of things, so I don’t focus on them because I can’t control them.”
What the Reds can control is meeting the benchmark they set in Durban with their doggedness under pressure.
“Getting that process right for us as a group across the board has been difficult to say the least,” Ryan said.
“But I think the players are coming to the understanding that if it’s not now, then when; if it’s not you, then who?
“It’s everyone’s actions. That comes back to us as a group and I think this group is genuinely committed to wanting to make something positive out of this season.”
The Reds take on the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium on Friday, May 3, kicking off at 7:45pm, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.
Reds to face Sunwolves
1. Harry Hoopert – Brothers
2. Alex Mafi – Bond University
3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers
4. Izack Rodda – Easts
5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths
6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland
7. Liam Wright – Easts
8. Scott Higginbotham – Wests
9. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland
10. Bryce Hegarty – GPS
11. Sefa Naivalu – Norths
12. Samu Kerevi (c) – Souths
13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths
14. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland
15. Hamish Stewart – Bond University
16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank
17. JP Smith – GPS
18. Ruan Smith – GPS
19. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland
20. Adam Korczyk – University of Queensland
21. Moses Sorovi – Wests
22. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths
23. Seb Wileman – Brothers