Reds dump Simmons, Houston for 2018

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

The Reds are handing the keys to Generation Next, declining to offer Rob Simmons a new contract and releasing Leroy Houston for 2018.

With Lukhan Tui and Izack Rodda future fixtures in the starting XV and Australian U20s talents Harry Hockings and Angus Blyth also looking like they have a career beckoning at Ballymore, the decision to leave Simmons off the books in 2018 looks to be a smart one.

Simmons' 2017 season has been a poor one and he has been hanging onto his starting spot due to his role as the lead lineout caller.

Both Tui and Rodda are better ball runners and offer better physicality in defence and Rodda is expected to take the reigns as the lineout caller going forward.After 112 games, Rob Simmons' career with Queensland looks to be over. Photo: WalmsleyThe pair are both approaching contract talks of their own and if the Reds were to re-sign Simmons at his asking price, there would not be enough room in the cap to squeeze both young guns in.

It's understood the 71-Test lock has been offered a deal from the ARU for 2018 and that he will explore his options with other Super Rugby franchises before he looks overseas.

The same cannot be said for Houston, who is expected to head back to Europe.

Houston came back to Australia with the thought that he may feature in Michael Cheika's Wallaby plans going forward.

Unfortunately, he has only played the one Test and with the likes of Scott Higgibotham, Adam Korcyzk and Hendrik Tui on the books, Queensland has a bounty of ball running back rowers that have been repeatedly picked ahead of him this year.Leroy Houston hasn't been a factor for the Reds this year. Photo: Getty Images“These conversations are never easy, especially with players who have been with Queensland since they started and who have given their all for the state and the organisation,” coach Nick Stiles said.

“However, we believe that the future lies with the players who started the game in Samoa last weekend and with other emerging second-row talent that has come through our under-20s program.

“The reality is that all Australian Super Rugby teams have to make decisions based on future priorities, as well as salary cap limitations.

"Rob will leave us at the end of the year with our best wishes and gratitude for the long service he has given Queensland.

“Leroy has been a great contributor to the squad this year and while he has had injury concerns to contend with through the middle part of the Super Rugby campaign, we agreed to his request for an early release on personal grounds.”