Digby Ioane returns for the Reds this week. Picture: Darren England/couriermail.com.au
The Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies will be playing for top spot on the Super Rugby table when they meet at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night. With the British and Irish Lions tour edging every closer as well, players from both teams will also be determined to win their individual matchups to put themselves in the frame for a Wallabies jersey against the tourists.
Digby Ioane returns on the wing after recovering from a knee injury, meaning that for the first time this season boss Ewen McKenzie has all of his star Wallabies in the starting side. Skipper James Horwill and crafty halfback Will Genia were amongst the players unavailable for their side’s 24-6 week one defeat but since that match the Reds have been in great form, winning six of their next seven fixtures. They arguably put in their best performance of the year to defeat last year’s championship winning Chiefs 31-23 at Hamilton in week nine and will take a great deal of confidence from that result.
The Brumbies bounced back from a disappointing draw at home to the struggling Kings a fortnight ago by beating the Highlanders in Dunedin but Jake White has still elected to make some changes. The return of Fotu Auelua at number 8 means that captain Ben Mowen moves to blindside flanker and Jordan Smiler goes back to the bench. A hamstring injury to outside centre Andrew Smith sees Tevita Kuridrani come back into the XV, while former Wallaby Clyde Rathbone is back amongst the substitutes.
Although the Brumbies have won 17 of the past 21 meetings between these sides, Queensland has a good recent record against them. They won both meetings between the pair in 2012 and three of their four wins since 1996 have come in the past three seasons.
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