Smith twins dropped for Sunwolves clash

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Reds coach Brad Thorn is continuing to stick to his mantra of a Queensland culture change, dropping JP and Ruan Smith from this weekend's match against the Sunwolves.

The pair have both been left out of the squad after failing to show for sessions in the days after their win over the Lions, and the beginning of their bye week.

It is believed that JP missed the team's recovery session after the Lions game, while Ruan failed to play in a club game that he was slated for and also a training session the next day.

Thorn took little time to make the call that both would have to sit out a game, but it is believed that is the extent of their punishment and they are in the frame to play Queensland Premier Rugby this week.

James Slipper returns from a collarbone injury to start at loosehead, while Sef Faagase comes onto the bench as reserve tighthead, to accommodate the missing twins.

Hamish Stewart has been shifted to fullback to accommodate the return of Jono Lance to the starting XV, after Lance missed their win over the Lions with a concussion.

Caleb Timu will miss the match with an ankle injury, opening the door for Adam Korczyk to start at blindside flanker, with Angus Scott-Young moving to no. 8 and Liam Wright coming onto the bench.

Lock Kane Douglas is set to play his 100th Super Rugby match when he runs out in Tokyo, after playing for the Reds and the Waratahs.

Knae Douglas is on his way back to form. Photo: Getty ImagesThorn said they were ready for a tough challenge against the Sunwolves, who have shown competitive glimpses without clinching a win this season. 

"The guys are excited at the challenge ahead. It’s our first trip to Japan to take on the Sunwolves and while the results haven’t gone their way this season, they’re a dangerous team," he said.

“The players have come back fresh from the bye and there’s a good energy among the group. We’re just going about our business, working hard and trying to improve as the season continues.

“We’re pleased to be able to welcome back Jono (Lance) and James (Slipper). They bring plenty of experience and composure to the group.

“With Jono back and Hamish playing well in his first start, it felt natural to pick the two of them. They bring similar attributes, they’re both tough competitors. We feel they’ll complement each other well and provide a few more options to the team in attack.

“It’s disappointing to lose Caleb (Timu) for this match. He’s been thriving. You never like to lose a guy to injury, but we’ve been building depth throughout the season, so we’re always confident in the guys stepping into the role.

“It’s a great achievement for Kane (Douglas) this weekend, reaching 100 games of Super Rugby. That’s something he can be really proud of. These sort of milestones are great and the team know they’re even better after a good result. The challenge is there for us.”

The Reds face the Sunwolves in Tokyo on Saturday, kicking off at 12pm local, 1pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.

TEAM

IN: James Slipper, Jono Lance, Sef Faagase, Liam Wright

OUT: Izaia Perese, Ruan Smith, JP Smith, Caleb Timu

1. James Slipper (C) – Bond University

2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank

3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers

4. Izack Rodda – Easts

5. Kane Douglas – Norths (100th Super Rugby cap)

6. Adam Korczyk –University of Queensland

7. George Smith – Brothers

8. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland

9. Ben Lucas – Sunnybank

10. Jono Lance – University of Queensland

11. Jordan Petaia – Wests

12. Samu Kerevi – Souths

13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths

14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests

15. Hamish Stewart – Bond University

Reserves

16. Alex Mafi – Bond University

17. Harry Hoopert – Brothers

18. Sef Fa’agase – University of Queensland

19. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland

20. Liam Wright – Easts

21. Moses Sorovi – Wests

22. Duncan Paia’aua - Norths

23. Aidan Toua - Easts