Rugby: Reds reshuffle backline for Crusaders

Reds general Will Genia will be the attacking director in a reshuffled Queensland backline for Saturday's Super Rugby qualifying final against the Crusaders in Christchurch. Photo / Getty Images.
Reds general Will Genia will be the attacking director in a reshuffled Queensland backline for Saturday's Super Rugby qualifying final against the Crusaders in Christchurch. Photo / Getty Images.

Reds general Will Genia will be the attacking director in a reshuffled Queensland backline for Saturday's Super Rugby qualifying final against the Crusaders in Christchurch.

As expected, the Reds have gained a massive boost with halfback Genia (knee, hand) and captain James Horwill (calf) both cleared of injuries picked up in the Wallabies' 2-1 series loss to the British and Irish Lions.

But while the Australian Test leadership duo were selected by coaching boss Ewen McKenzie on Thursday, centre Anthony Faingaa ran out of time to sufficiently overcome a lingering hamstring problem.

Faingaa will travel to Christchurch late Thursday as 23rd man, but McKenzie insisted he was only in the squad as a back-up in case of injury.

Jono Lance, who played fullback in Queensland's 18-13 win over the Crusaders in the 2011 final, will instead start at No.12 following an impressive defensive effort off the bench in last week's 14-12 victory over NSW.

The Reds will also feature two new starting wingers among four backline changes with Dom Shipperley replacing the injured Rod Davies (knee) and Luke Morahan dropped in favour of boom youngster Chris Feauai-Sautia.

"There is always going to be some damage at this time of the year and, while it's disappointing to be without a few guys, we are getting the experience of James and Will back," McKenzie said.

"Their influence can't be understated and you need world-class players and strong leaders if you are going to win these games on the big stage.

"We have had to reshuffle our backline in some positions and the players coming in now have an opportunity to contribute in a positive way.

"They've all had plenty of experience this year in the roles we are asking of them and we've got every confidence in our entire 22-man squad to get the job done."

Queensland haven't won in Christchurch for 14 years but have beaten all four Kiwi sides they have played this season.

An upset win over the Crusaders would make the Reds the first Australian team to clean sweep all five New Zealand opponents.

Only the Cape Town-based Stormers, in 2010, have achieved the feat before in the 18-year history of the competition.

The Crusaders have named All Blacks skipper Richie McCaw on the bench in his Super Rugby return and cleared lock Luke Romano (ankle) and centre Tom Taylor (head knock) to play.

Reds: Ben Lucas, Dom Shipperley, Ben Tapuai, Jono Lance, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk, James Horwill (capt), Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Saia Faingaa, Greg Holmes. Res: Albert Anae, Jono Owen, Ed O'Donoghue, Radike Samo, Beau Robinson, Nick Frisby, Luke Morahan.

Crusaders: Israel Dagg, Tom Marshall, Ryan Crotty, Tom Taylor, Zac Guildford, Dan Carter, Andy Ellis; Kieran Read (capt), Matt Todd, George Whitelock, Sam Whitelock, Luke Romano, Owen Franks, Corey Flynn, Wyatt Crockett. Res: Ben Funnell, Joe Moody, Luke Whitelock, Richie McCaw, Willi Heinz, Tyler Bleyendaal, Adam Whitelock.

AAP jsm/ajw

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