Ioane returns to face Brumbies
Reds wing Digby Ioane will make his return from injury in Saturday's crucial Super Rugby encounter with the Brumbies in Brisbane.
Queensland Reds wing Digby Ioane will make his return from injury in Saturday's crucial Rod Macqueen Cup Super Rugby encounter with the ACT Brumbies in Brisbane.
Ioane is the sole change to the Reds starting line-up which defeated the reigning Super Rugby champion Chiefs 31-23 last week, with the Wallaby dynamo now recovered from a knee complaint which forced him to miss Queensland's two most recent wins.
Flyer Rod Davies has been rewarded for his standout two-try effort against the Chiefs with selection on the opposite wing, while 2012 Wallaby debutant Dom Shipperley will be injected into the match from the bench.
The return of Ioane strengthens the Reds line-up as they look to retain the Rod Macqueen Cup they gained possession of last year for the first time since its inception in 2005.
The Cup is symbolic of the traditional rivalry between the Reds and Brumbies and is up for grabs annually as part of a two-game series during the Super Rugby regular season.
Saturday's contest will also determine which side will lead both the Super Rugby competition and Australian Conference heading into the second half of the tournament with the Reds (31 competition points) only marginally behind the table-topping Brumbies (33).
"This is a game we've had on our minds since round one so it's good to be returning home to Suncorp Stadium and getting another crack at the Brumbies," Director of Coaching Ewen McKenzie said.
"Our game has improved a lot since then and we also have the added benefit this week of continuity in our selections as there hasn't been the need to make a lot of changes.
"There have been a number of guys return from injury recently and we're expecting even more to come back into the mix during the next few weeks. That puts us in a good space, especially heading into what is an important game against the Brumbies.
"We're beginning to build strong combinations and the guys not in the matchday squad right now are working hard and pushing those above them for a spot, which has improved the team as a whole.
"This week we get Digby back which will add more firepower to our attack while Rod played well last week and deserves another chance."
Historically, the Brumbies have won 17 of the 21 matches contested between the two provinces although the Reds have enjoyed significantly more success during the McKenzie era with the Reds and Brumbies splitting their six matches played since 2010 with three wins apiece.
The Reds will also enter the game with added confidence having scored successive four-try bonus points in their past two wins over the Highlanders and Chiefs while they have also won six of their past seven Super Rugby games.
The match is the Reds first home game at Suncorp Stadium since they were victorious over the Bulls on March 23 and they enter the game having won 24 of their past 28 matches at the venue.
The Reds have announced an unchanged forward pack from their victory over the Chiefs with prop Greg Holmes and James Slipper and hooker James Hanson in the front-row; captain James Horwill and Rob Simmons in the second row; and Eddie Quirk, Liam Gill and Jake Schatz in the back row.
Ioane joins a backline which features scrumhalf Will Genia and flyhalf Quade Cooper in the playmaking positions; Ben Tapuai and Anthony Faingaa in the centres; Jono Lance at fullback and Davies on the wing.
Reds: 15 Jono Lance, 14 Rod Davies, 13 Anthony Faingaa, 12 Ben Tapuai, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 Quade Cooper, 9 Will Genia, 8 Jake Schatz, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Eddie Quirk, 5 James Horwill (captain), 4 Rob Simmons, 3 James Slipper, 2 James Hanson, 1 Greg Holmes.
Replacements: 16 Saia Faingaa, 17 Ben Daley, 18 Ed O'Donoghue, 19 Jarrad Butler, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Chris Feauai-Sautia, 22 Dom Shipperley.
Date: Saturday, April 20
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 19.40 (09.40 GMT)
Referee: Glen Jackson (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Steve Walsh (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Steve Leszczynski (Australia)