Iain Payten and Jamie Pandaram discuss how important fans’ support is for Australian Rugby
FRONTLINE forwards George Smith and Rob Simmons have been rested from Sunday’s tough tango in Buenos Aires in the biggest call of the Nick Stiles reign as Reds coach.
Stiles has boldly stuck to his belief that utilising the entire squad, not just his top 15, is the only way to maximise performance during the most intense, high-travel period of the season.
Out go another 251 games of combined Super Rugby experience because warrior flanker Smith and lock Simmons are absent from the bench as well against the Jaguares.
A coach of less conviction may have continued to play Smith for his consistent class but, at 36, it is a wise call to give him breathers to keep him sharp.
Young livewire Adam Korczyk jumps into Smith’s No.7 jersey while the impressive charges of young lock Izack Rodda can get the Reds rumbling on the front foot without Simmons.
In other pack changes, bullocking runner Leroy Houston wins his first backrow chance of the year ahead of Hendrik Tui while Markus Vanzati will start at prop.
“We knew when we signed George and Stephen Moore that to get the best from their ability and experience, at their age, we had to manage them,” Stiles said.
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“To think George would play every game is unrealistic coming off a full Top League season in Japan.
“Not to pick Simmo and George is a big call but we freshen them up and we have guys coming in who deserve these chances.
“We always knew we’d need to use our depth during this gruelling part of the season plus we have genuine competition for spots.
“Izack gives us real momentum with his ball carries and Leroy is in career-best physical shape to play the abrasive, physical style that suits us against the Jaguares.”
James Tuttle will take over the line-kicking now he has bumped Wallaby Nick Frisby from the halfback job.
“I’ve been told not to change anything … just keep the energy up and try to spark the boys around the breakdown with quick footy,” Tuttle said.
Former Brisbane Bronco Lachie Maranta is on the bench for the first time as fullback-wing cover.
Stephen Moore steps up as captain in his return to the starting line-up for the 7.40am (Qld time) game on Sunday morning.
REDS: Karmichael Hunt, Izaia Perese, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, James Tuttle, Scott Higginbotham, Adam Korczyk, Leroy Houston, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Sam Talakai, Stephen Moore (c), Markus Vanzati. Res: Andrew Ready, Kirwan Sanday, Taniela Tupou, Lukhan Tui, Hendrik Tui, Nick Frisby, Lachie Maranta, Chris Kuridrani.
Originally published as Reds rest 251 Super Rugby caps