The Queensland Reds’ backline depth will be sorely tested when they face the Western Force after losing Lachie Turner with a worrying ankle injury.
The Queensland Reds are sweating on scan results after injury-plagued Wallabies flyer Lachie Turner’s worrying ankle problem flared again on Thursday.
Turner had been poised to line up at fullback against the Western Force on Saturday night but struggled through training before becoming the latest Reds’ outside back to be sidelined.
With Aidan Toua, Chris Feauai-Sautia and Dom Shipperley all struck down in the past fortnight, the home side’s depth will be sorely tested at Suncorp Stadium.
But there’s more concern for the weeks ahead with Turner’s discomfort coming in the ankle he badly fractured and dislocated 12 months ago.
Coach Richard Graham denied the problem was serious but immediately booked him in for an MRI scan.
“It isn’t something we haven’t had to manage until this point but it hasn’t been good this week,” Graham said.
The Reds have also taken the safety-first approach by naming back-up flyhalf Ben Lucas at fullback, with Auckland product Jamie-Jerry Taulagi to make his Super Rugby debut on the wing as Shipperley’s replacement.
Taulagi, who only arrived in Brisbane two years ago to become a club rugby hit with University, impressed as an exciting broken-field runner in the trials and could make it an awkward return home for Luke Morahan.
“He’s got some X-factor and he will certainly bring something different to the game,” Graham said.
“The Force kick the ball as much as anybody in Super Rugby so there will be times the game gets loose and he’ll be able to capitalise on that.”
With Lucas a strong front-line defender, Graham hinted Quade Cooper could again switch to fullback in defence to team up with Taulagi and Rod Davies, in his 50th Reds match.
Force duo Nathan Charles and Sias Ebersohn will also celebrate 50-game Super milestones as the visitors, refreshed after their bye and looking for a fourth straight win, welcome back in-form No.8 Ben McCalman from suspension.
Reds: Ben Lucas, Rod Davies, Ben Tapuai, Mike Harris, Jamie-Jerry Taulagi, Quade Cooper, Will Genia, Jake Schatz, Beau Robinson, Eddie Quirk, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper. Res: Albert Anae, Pettowa Paraka, Jono Owen, Ed O’Donoghue, Curtis Browning, Nick Frisby, Anthony Fainga’a, Ben Lucas, Jonah Placid.
Force: Jayden Hayward, Luke Morahan, Junior Rasolea, Kyle Godwin, Nick Cummins, Sias Ebersohn, Alby Mathewson; Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson (capt), Angue Cottrell, Wilhelm Steenkamp, Sam Wykes, Kieran Longbottom, Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan. Res: Heath Tessmann, Tetera Faulkner, Ollie Hoskins, Adam Coleman, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Zack Holmes, Marcel Brache.