Utility Ben Lucas will fill the big boots of Quade Cooper in Friday night’s Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders.
Queensland Reds’ Mr Fix-It, Ben Lucas, will need to be at the height of his powers to fill the boots of Quade Cooper in Friday night’s Super Rugby clash against the Highlanders.
The Reds are on a six-match losing streak and the versatile Lucas will have the big playmaking responsibility as they try to turn around their fortunes against the fifth-placed Kiwis.
Coach Richard Graham has indicated the 26-year-old utility will lead his side around Suncorp Stadium with five-eighth Cooper sidelined by a season-ending shoulder injury.
Lucas earned his spurs after replacing the Wallabies No.10 early in the controversial 30-27 loss to the Melbourne Rebels and scoring a second-half try which put them back in the contest.
“I thought he played well for the 70 minutes there when he came on,” Graham said on Monday.
“He hadn’t been there all season and I thought he did a pretty good job.”
Graham denied fellow play-making utility Mike Harris’s decision to sign with the Rebels, announced on Saturday, had been a factor in his selection.
Harris is set to stay at fullback against the Highlanders, with Lachie Turner’s return from a lingering ankle injury put back to after next month’s international window.
While there’s been speculation the Reds are keen to sign James O’Connor for next season, Graham dismissed that as a reason for Harris’s move.
“You get to a point in discussions where inevitably you can’t go any further and clearly his expectations and our expectations were a fair way apart,” Graham said.
The Reds haven’t announced any players that have been re-signed, instead choosing to wait until the end of the competition before revealing their 2015 list.
Graham said they would also leave positions vacant and target form players from the inaugural National Rugby Championship, kicking off in September.
The Highlanders are viewing their trip to Brisbane as a must-win fixture and will start favourites against a Queensland side that will be bolstered by the return of forwards James Slipper, Liam Gill and Ed Quirk.
Despite a weekend bye, Queensland’s injury woes have continued with hooker Saia Fainga’a in serious doubt due to a calf problem.