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By Reds Media Unit
The St.George Queensland Reds have made three changes to their starting XV for Saturday’s round 12 Super Rugby match against the Western Force in Perth with Albert Anae earning his first starting opportunity as a prop for the Reds.
Anae will wear the number one jersey for the first time in his 13 game Super Rugby career with his only other starting appearance coming at hooker in the Reds 35-20 victory over the Force at Suncorp Stadium in March last year.
Anae, who made his Super Rugby debut against the Hurricanes in 2011, is one of two changes made to the Reds front-row with Greg Holmes coming in at tighthead prop and James Slipper moving to the bench.
The third change made to the starting line-up sees flyer Dom Shipperley come in for the injured Rod Davies, while flanker Beau Robinson gets his first opportunity for the year off the bench.
Robinson battled an ankle injury during the early stages of the season but has spent the past month gaining match fitness for Queensland Premier Rugby side Souths ahead of his return to the Reds.
Robinson has been chosen in a forward heavy 5-2 split on the bench alongside hooker James Hanson, Slipper, lock Ed O’Donoghue, flanker Jarrad Butler and backs Ben Lucas and Chris Feauai-Sautia.
“One area we pride ourselves on is our depth and Albert has made a strong impact with every opportunity he has received this year from the bench,” Reds Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.
“Managing player workloads are something you must be conscious of if you are going to be successful over the duration of the competition and there are many different strategies you can implement around this in terms of your training program and game minutes.
“We’re always cognisant of this in the decisions we make each day and feel James Slipper will this week benefit from being used as an impact player from the bench. With more players coming back into the selection picture over the past month we’re in a good position where we can share the workload and responsibilities of the team.
“That gives Albert a chance he has been building towards for some time now while we also get a boost with Beau coming into the side for the first time this year.”
The Reds have not lost since their defeat at the hands of the Western Force in round five, with four wins and a draw since putting McKenzie’s side just three competition points behind the ACT Brumbies.
Saturday’s match will be an opportunity to avenge that loss while the Reds will also be determined to make amends for their loss to the Force in Perth last year.
“The margin between winning and losing is always tight and we’ve already seen this season that if you are even marginally below your best you will get beaten,” McKenzie said.
“There are a lot of reasons for us to be excited about Saturday’s game so we’re looking forward to the challenge of travelling to Perth to play the Force.”
St.George Queensland Reds team to play the Western Force
1. Albert Anae
2. Saia Faingaa
3. Greg Holmes
4. Rob Simmons
5. James Horwill (c)
6. Eddie Quirk
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Will Genia (vc)
10. Quade Cooper
11. Digby Ioane
12. Ben Tapuai
13. Anthony Faingaa
14. Dom Shipperley
15. Jono Lance
16. James Hanson
17. James Slipper
18. Ed O’Donoghue
19. Jarrad Butler
20. Beau Robinson
21. Ben Lucas
22. Chris Feauai-Sautia