Reds Looking For ‘Six Of The Best’

Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au
Reds playmaker Quade Cooper has the x-factor. Image courtesy of couriermail.com.au

It’s an interstate rugby battle which means so much to both states, but Queensland has dominated the last five encounters against arch-rival NSW . The Reds head into Saturday night's ANZ Stadium clash knowing they’ve enjoyed victory the last two times in Sydney and on three occasions in Brisbane.

Both sides opened their 2014 Super Rugby campaigns in style last weekend. With Israel Folau scoring three tries, the Tahs touched-up Western Force 43-21, while the Reds posted a rare win in Canberra, beating the Brumbies 27-17.

These 'origin like' encounters are traditionally intense, rivalling test matches and the battle of the forwards will be crucial. The breakdowns and scrums will be fiercely contested, but both backlines are laden with Wallabies, who love running the ball. Then there’s the unpredictability and magic of Quade Cooper. The Queenslanders are well aware of Folau’s qualities and plan to nullify the dual international, as well as play-maker Kurtley Beale. They are backing their defence to handle a side boasting 13 test footballers.

The Reds were going into the encounter with an unchanged 23-man squad, until inside centre Mike Harris was ruled out with an ankle injury. Anthony Fainga’a comes into the starting 15, with utility back Ben Lucas on the bench. A knee injury has forced Waratahs skipper Dave Dennis out. Stephen Hoiles takes over at blindside flanker. Michael Hooper will lead the Tahs and his clash with Liam Gill is critical in the possession stakes.

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