Queensland Reds vice-captain Rob Simmons has been ruled out of his side’s clash against the Bulls this weekend after failing to overcome a shoulder injury.
Simmons suffered an AC injury in the 32nd minute of the Reds’ 28-27 victory over the Highlanders last weekend, but was later given the all-clear to fly with the squad for their two week tour of South Africa.
Simmons’ injury opens the door for young lock Ben Matwijow who earns his first Super Rugby start this weekend.
It’s been a sudden rise for Matwijow who was included in the Reds 2016 squad, recruited from the ITM Cup, as cover for injured Wallaby lock Kane Douglas.
While Simmons will be a big loss for the Reds side co-coach Nick Stiles was adamant Matwijow will be able to fill the void.
“It’s disappointing not to have the experience of Rob (Simmons) there this weekend, but we thought it was best to give his shoulder another week to heal,” Stiles said.
Ben (Matwijow) has been making a solid impact off the bench and we know he can do a job for us on Saturday night.”
The Reds will be looking to build some momentum following their first win of 2016, but face the tough task of winning in South Africa, something only Australian teams have managed to do just once this season.
In the only changes to the side, young guns Likhan Tui and Scott Gale will have a chance to earn their Super Rugby debuts via the bench after impressing in the Super U20s Championships.
The Reds take on the Bulls at 1:05pm AEST Sunday, LIVE on FOX SPORTS.
1. James Slipper (C)
2. Andrew Ready
3. Greg Holmes
4. Cadeyrn Neville
5. Ben Matwijow (starting debut)
6. Hendrik Tui
7. Liam Gill
8. Jake Schatz
9. Nick Frisby
10. Jake McIntyre
11. Eto Nabuli
12. Anthony Fainga’a
13. Samu Kerevi
14. Chris Feauai-Sautia
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15. Karmichael Hunt
16. Saia Fainga’a
17. Sef Fa’agase
18. Sam Talakai
19. Lukhan Tui (uncapped)
20. Curtis Browning
21. James Tuttle (uncapped)
22. Sam Greene
23. Ayumu Goromaru