TEAM NEWS: Reds to rest Naivalu from Bulls clash

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

The Reds have rested form winger Sefa Naivalu from their side for Sunday's clash against the Bulls in Pretoria, reshuffling their backline to accommodate his absence as they attempt to win their first game in South Africa since 2015.

Chris Feauai-Sautia returns from injury to start outside captain Samu Kerevi in the centres, with Jack Hardy and Aidan Toua on the wings.

Hardy made his first start last week while Feauai-Sautia battled a hamstring strain and while he returns, Toua will get his chance following the reshuffle forced by the resting of Naivalu as well as a broken arm suffered by winger Filipo Daugunu against the Stormers.

Hardy was originally to have been left in Australia with Junior Wallabies teammates Isaac Lucas, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson but the Reds' injury crisis and a need to rotate players led to the club negotiating with Australian U20 hierarchy, allowing Hardy to travel.

Defence coach Peter Ryan said Naivalu's rotation was "out of our hands".

Angus Scott-Young has been cited for alleged foul play in the match against the Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images 

"That's a part of the Rugby Australia rest program for the Wallabies for later in the year, so it's out of our hands," Ryan said.

"Aidan (Toua) comes in with over 50 games of Super Rugby experience and he's a left-foot kicker as well which is another bonus for our guys coming out of our exits."

In the forwards, prop Taniela Tupou and hooker Alex Mafi return to the starting side after coming off the bench in the win over the Stormers, with Ruan Smith and Brandon Paenga-Amosa named in the reserves.

"I think the rotation that they've had going with the front row has been working quite well and I think it will put us in good stead for a strong scrum" Ryan said.

Angus Scott-Young returns to the 23 after missing last week with concussion, while winger Jock Campbell could make his Super Rugby debut after also being named on the bench.

Ryan said the University of Queensland flyer deserved his shot.

"Jock came into the program and his pre-season was fantastic, he worked his backside off through every session he's been involved in," Ryan said.

"He's willing to ask questions and put himself in front of the coaches at a moment's notice with regards to training and then stepping up this weekend to come on to the bench.

"I think it's a testament to his work ethic in the pre-season and then obviously his club rugby has been fantastic as well."

Taking on the Bulls at altitude at the famed Loftus Versfeld stadium was a massive challenge but Ryan said the Reds would take the same mindset into the match as they had last week in a win against the Stormers.

"They're traditionally known as a very big team across the field, so their centres are just as big as their backrowers.

"They're mobile, they're big, they're fast and they can tackle well, so it's a matter of making sure we execute our plan really well and then get itno the grind of the game.

"I think with our superior fitness we should come through the other side."

The Reds take on the Bulls in Pretoria on Sunday, April 14, kicking off at 1:15am AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.


Reds to take on Bulls:

1. JP Smith – GPS

2. Alex Mafi – Bond University

3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers

4. Izack Rodda – Easts

5. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland

6. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths

7. Liam Wright – Easts

8. Scott Higginbotham – Wests

9. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland

10. Bryce Hegarty – GPS

11. Aidan Toua – Brothers

12. Samu Kerevi (c) – Souths

13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths

14. Jack Hardy – Easts

15. Hamish Stewart – Bond University


16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank

17. Harry Hoopert – Brothers

18. Ruan Smith – GPS

19. Angus Blyth – Bond University

20. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland

21. Moses Sorovi – Wests

22. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths

23. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland