Brisbane City’s hopes of a National Rugby Championship ambush have been boosted by the return of Liam Gill for their semi-final against NSW Country.
Forgotten Wallaby Liam Gill will bolster a highly-physical Brisbane City pack aiming for a Gosford ambush in Friday night’s NRC semi-final against NSW Country.
Gill, completely overlooked by departed Test coach Ewen McKenzie this season, makes his return from a lingering neck/shoulder injury for his first game in four weeks.
The talented 15-Test flanker joins the in-form No.8 Jake Schatz, unlucky to miss selection for the European tour, and Curtis Browning in a formidable back-row.
Gill last played for the Wallabies in the 2013 spring tour but lost his place as Michael Hooper’s No.7 back-up to Matt Hodgson this year and was instead selected for Commonwealth Games sevens duties.
His return gives City, who finished third in the competition, a key weapon at the breakdown against the second-placed Eagles who are largely made up of Randwick and Easts Shute Shield players.
While on the road, Brisbane do boast a psychological edge after blitzing NSW Country early in their round four encounter before winning 34-26 in Lismore.
“We need to get our breakdown right, it’s been a little bit disappointing in the last few weeks,” said Eagles coach Darren Coleman.
“They’ve got a bunch of guys, led by Liam Gill, that are brilliant on the ball and we will have to really work to counter that.”
City’s backline has been boosted by the return of damaging Reds centre Samu Kerevi but they have lost Lachie Turner (ankle) at fullback.
The Eagles boast Super Rugby-winning Waratahs Stephen Hoiles, Mitch Chapman and Brendan McKibbin as well as boom winger Andrew Kellaway.
The winner will book a place in next weekend’s decider where they will meet the victor of Saturday’s clash between minor premiers Melbourne Rising and Perth Spirit.
Although they are missing Wallabies tourists Sean McMahon, Tom English and Luke Jones, the unbeaten Rising will start as hot favourites at AAMI Park with a Rebels-laden line up.