Ayumu Goromaru’s chance to have a much-awaited match up against his home country is set to be decided by Karmichael Hunt.
Hunt missed last weekend’s game against the Hurricanes with a groin injury , giving Goromaru his first starting opportunity of the year.
The Japanese Test star played the full 80 minutes of that match, but could be pushed to the bench or out of the 23 entirely for Saturday’s match against the Sunwolves if Hunt is fit.
Reds captain James Slipper said he was confident in both Goromaru and Hunt to perform at fullback, regardless of who was ultimately picked.
“We’re still waiting on Karmichael’s injury to see if he’s fit but we’re extremely confident in either player,” he said.
“‘Goro’ did an exceptional job last weekend. The whole team didn't’ perform at its best,” he said.
“I think ‘Goro’ or Karmichael can do the job this weekend and we’ll be confident in either player.”
This week’s selection battle comes amid reports that Toulon is set to announce its signing of Goromaru by the end of the month, meaning this could be his only chance to meet his compatriots.
Goromaru is one of two Japanese test players in the Reds squad, with Hendrik Tui likely to line up in the back row for the Sunwolves’ first visit to Australia .
Slipper said while the match held significance for the Japanese representative duo, it was as important for the Reds’ season, as they look to notch a third win.
“We definitely have two class players who are pretty keen on playing this game,” he said.
“(They’ve) both played for Japan themselves and I’m sure they know quite a few players that are coming here this weekend.
“It’s going to be an important game for them but important for us as well, one we’re looking forward to.”
The Reds have won two matches at home, against the Highlanders and the Cheetahs, and Slipper said they wanted to give their fans another chance to celebrate.
“It’s been tough the last couple of weeks,” he said.
“We’ve been playing good rugby but at the same time we’ve been disappointed with the end results.
“So if we can get back here in front of our fans and get the win against the Sunwolves that’d be ideal and it’s something we’re working hard to achieve.”
The St George Foundation is donating $5000 to the Salvation Army, to support ongoing earthquake relief efforts
Locks Ben Matwijow and Cadeyrn Neville will auction off their one-off headgear to the cause, as part of the Reds’ Be Great, Do Good initiative.
Members of the Gold Coast-based Japan and Friends Society will be at Suncorp to collect donations to further boost relief funds.