McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City will close out round five of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship on Sunday afternoon, when they face the New South Wales Country Eagles for the Horan-Little Shield at Ballymore in Brisbane.
City have had a ten-day break and are ready and raring to go in a rematch of last year’s semi-final against a team that ended the Sydney Stars undefeated start to the season last weekend.
City head coach Nick Stiles has made three changes to his starting team for the Horan-Little Shield clash, with a further four changes on the bench. In the forward pack, St.George Queensland Reds hooker Andrew Ready returns after a week on the sidelines, seeing Matt Mafi move back to the reserves bench, and Brothers back rower Luke Beauchamp continues his rotation with Waita Setu at blindside-flanker.
In the backline, the prolific try-scorer Junior Laloifi has been selected on the left-wing, with Henry Taefu given another opportunity at inside centre alongside Samu Kerevi. Karmichael Hunt retains his spot at fullback after a solid outing against the North Harbour Rays.
On the bench, the front row replacements of Marcus Vanzati, Matt Mafi and Feao Fotuaika remain unchanged, while lock Corey Thomas returns after a two-week absence. GPS back rower Michael Richards is in line for his second cap of the season, Wests’ scrumhalf Tim Smith returns and Australian Sevens flyer Alex Gibbon gets another opportunity off the bench.
Stiles said that his team is ready for the match against the New South Wales Country Eagles after two tough clashes against Bond University Queensland Country and the North Harbour Rays.
“Having played two matches in the space of five days, the lads were mentally and physically fatigued. It has been great to have ten days off, but as we found out last year, the NSW Country Eagles will be extremely tough opponents. The Horan-Little Shield is on the line again and it is important that we keep that shield in Queensland.”
When asked about the changes, Stiles said it is essential to give everyone in his squad an opportunity this season.
“To win this competition, you need to have good depth throughout the whole squad. I think it’s something that really set us apart from other sides last year.”
Preceding the match, Queenslanders have the opportunity to take part in the World’s Largest Scrum record attempt. Not only can you help to break the current world record set by New South Wales earlier this year, but you’ll be helping the QRU to raise valuable funds towards the building of a permanent monument at Suncorp Stadium dedicated to Rugby.
“There are a lot of benefits in coming down on Sunday, not only to break the world record, but the reason why the QRU has put a lot of time into this fundraising activity is because it is going to go towards a scrum monument at Suncorp Stadium.
“The Reds are a very big part of Suncorp Stadium. There is a lot of history there now for the short time that the Reds have been playing at the venue and we feel it is very important that Rugby has a good, strong presence at the stadium. Come on down and show your support for the St.George Queensland Reds and Queensland Rugby,” Stiles said.
Meanwhile, CSU NSW Country Eagles coach Darren Coleman has been forced to make 10 changes to the starting side that beat the Sydney Stars 37-31 in Tamworth last week.
Prop Dashville Kuate and lock Tom Staniforth have both been ruled out of Sunday’s clash against Brisbane City through suspension, while a host of other Eagles will miss the match through injury.
Despite that, Coleman is confident the Eagles can challenge the competition leaders, who beat NSW Country in last year’s NRC semi final.
“We would have loved to take a few more guys up to Brisbane, but unfortunately that’s footy. Regardless, I’ve been really impressed by a number of the lesser known players in the squad, so it’s great that they’ll get an opportunity this week.
Newcastle boy Nick Palmer will make his NRC run-on debut, as will Byron Bay local Tom Merritt, Will Fay and Jack Pennington.
“All those guys have earned their spot and I’m confident they’ll step up to the challenge. They are facing some big names but I know they won’t take a backwards step.
The CSU NSW Country Eagles face Brisbane City at Ballymore from 3:30pm on Sunday afternoon.
McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City side to face NSW Country Eagles:
1. Pettowa Paraka – Reds/Easts
2. Andrew Ready – Reds/Easts
3. Sam Talakai – Reds/GPS
4. Ben Hyne - Brothers
5. Cadeyrn Neville – Reds/Manly
6. Luke Beauchamp - Brothers
7. Liam Gill (C) – Reds/Sunnybank
8. Scott Higginbotham – NEC Green Rockets
9. Nick Frisby – Reds/GPS
10. Jake McIntyre – Reds/Sunnybank
11. Junior Laloifi – Sunnybank
12. Henry Taefu – Sunnybank
13. Samu Kerevi – Reds/GPS
14. Chris Kuridrani – Reds/GPS
15. Karmichael Hunt – Reds/Brothers
16. Markus Vanzati - Souths
17. Matt Mafi - Brothers
18. Feao Fotuaika - Sunnybank
19. Corey Thomas - GPS
20. Michael Richards - GPS
21. Tim Smith - Wests
22. Alex Gibbon – Southern Districts
23. Patrick James - Brothers
CSU NSW Country Eagles team to play Brisbane City:
1. Dane Maraki
2. Ryan Dalziel
3. Dave Faeo
4. Nick Palmer
5. Sam Lousi
6. Sam Croke
7. Pauli Tuala
8. Sam Figg
9. Mitch Short
10. Jono Lance
11. Tom Merritt
12. Dave Horwitz
13. Will Fay
14. Jack Pennington
15. Jarome McKenzie
16. Tom Sexton
17. Clay Brodie
18. Andrew Collins
19. BJ Edwards
20. Mark Baldwin
21. Dave Harvey
22. Brogan Roods
23. Charlie Clifton