Patient Reds flyer Aidan Toua looms as the man to fill Digby Ioane’s boots as Queensland’s Super Rugby strike weapon out wide.
Luckless Queensland fullback Aidan Toua’s patience and a step backwards in 2013 have paid off, making him the Reds’ new Super Rugby strike weapon.
Toua will start just the sixth game of his injury-plagued, four-year Reds’ career on Saturday night against the Brumbies after beating Lachie Turner for the No.15 jersey.
The former Australian Schoolboys star is the only non-Wallaby in Queensland’s backline but new coach Richard Graham, keen to utilise his speed and agility, has earmarked the 24-year-old for a key attacking role this season.
Toua was a stand-out for the Reds in their two trial matches, showing he can be their chief line-breaking threat out wide following the loss of Digby Ioane.
The Papua New Guinea-born flyer started the past three seasons in the Reds’ 22 but a string of hamstring injuries were his undoing.
“I’ve had to build my patience,” Toua said. “I won’t lie, it hasn’t been easy, but good things come to people who wait I guess.
“It has been pretty tough over the last few years but 2014 is a new year.
“I’ve tried to stay out from under the ladders and away from black cats.”
Following two hamstring tears in 2012, Toua made the difficult call with former coach Ewen McKenzie last year to return to club rugby for consistent game time instead of being on the Reds bench.
“There was no use sitting on the bench and getting a few minutes here or there so I went back to club and got 16 games last year and every aspect of my game I’ve improved,” he said.
“At the time it was hard to take not being in the Reds team but it has worked out for the best.”
Waratahs recruit Turner failed to have the impact of Toua in the trials but will start on the wing as rising Wallabies three-quarter Chris Feauai-Sautia, Rod Davies and Anthony Fainga’a were noteable omissions from the starting 15 named on Thursday.
The explosive Feauai-Sautia will be on the bench at Canberra Stadium, along with defensive linchpin Fainga’a, as Ben Tapuai won the Reds’ hotly-contested outside centre berth.
With four Wallabies striving for two midfield positions, it was always a headache for Graham but Mike Harris’s solid trial form won him the No.12 jersey beside Tapuai, whose big left boot gave him an edge in the selection battle at 13.
There’s only one surprise in Queensland’s settled forward pack with Wallabies prop James Slipper switched from tight-head to loose-head, where he plays Test rugby, as veteran front-rower Greg Holmes was preferred ahead of Ben Daley.
Queensland: Aidan Toua, Lachie Turner, Ben Tapuai, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, Saia Fainga’a, James Slipper. Res: James Hanson, Ben Daley, Jono Owen, Ed ODonoghue, Beau Robinson, Nick Frisby, Anthony Fainga’a, Chris Feauai-Sautia.