WALLABY skipper Stephen Moore will be benched for a game on the Reds’ tough tour of South Africa and Argentina to guard against scrum dramas.
Moore will be used as a finisher so his 117-Tests worth of scrum organisation are maximised beside the least experienced forwards in the squad.
Reds coach Nick Stiles has hatched the tactical ploy to make sure his team is not exposed by selecting three rookies among the squad’s five props.
There was a collective gulp at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday night when the Reds played the final 15 minutes with reserves Taniela Tupou and Markus Vanzati as raw pillars for the scrum.
The duo produced a strong scrum near fulltime, but consistency is not yet their middle name.
With burly Sef Fa’agase (calf) ruled out of the tour, another novice has been added in uncapped Easts prop Kirwan Sanday.
How to get the most from two top hookers in Moore, at 34, and robust Andrew Ready has always been one of the pleasant headaches for Stiles.
Moore’s opening 40 minutes were his best of the season in the shattering 22-20 loss on fulltime against the Crusaders when the Reds botched running down the clock when in possession.
A role change may still come as quickly as facing the Lions in Johannesburg on Sunday morning (Qld time) before the team’s first meeting with the Jaguares in Buenos Aires on March 26.
“When we signed Stephen, we knew we had to manage his load with starts and some time off the bench,” Stiles said.
“By using him later in the game, it gives us great experience beside some of our young replacement props and that is something we’ll look at on this tour.”
Waking up at 5.30am on Sunday to watch the Lions-Jaguares TV game on Fox Sports only reinforced for Stiles how important aggressive defence will be on tour.
“Both sides scored four tries, ran the ball and threw it wide, so the meek and mild defence of the Reds in recent seasons would not stand up,” Stiles said.
“We have worked really hard on making big defence part of our identity again and that’s dominant hits, tackles that force turnovers and the desire to scramble for each other.”
Reds press conference7:03
Rugby: Queensland Reds press conference following their clash with the Crusaders.
There were strong signs everywhere against the Kiwis.
Centre Duncan Paia’aua had one of the lightest frames on the field yet he produced one of the hits of the night on All Blacks rival Ryan Crotty.
Stiles was disappointed at blowing a 20-7 lead, but could also drag out the positives for a strong tour.
“We haven’t fired a shot against these blokes in years and we’ve gone from a team that loses by 50 points to a team that’s been beaten on the buzzer,” Stiles said.
“A lot of the boys will take confidence we can compete with good teams and the key now is to come away with wins.”
Scans on Sunday cleared key flyhalf Quade Cooper of any knee damage while Crusaders fullback Israel Dagg will not be so lucky today.
Reds’ tour squad:
FORWARDS: Kirwan Sanday, James Slipper (c), Sam Talakai, Taniela Tupou, Markus Vanzati,
Stephen Moore, Andrew Ready, Kane Douglas, Izack Rodda, Rob Simmons, Lukhan Tui, Scott Higginbotham, Leroy Houston, Adam Korczyk, George Smith, Hendrik Tui
BACKS: Nick Frisby, James Tuttle, Quade Cooper, Jake McIntyre, Samu Kerevi, Duncan Paia’aua, Henry Taefu, Karmichael Hunt, Chris Kuridrani, Eto Nabuli, Izaia Perese
Originally published as Reds leaving Moore in the tank