Queensland big guns ruled out with injury

The Reds will be without backline stars James O’Connor and Suliasi Vunivalu for their final game of the Super Rugby trans-Tasman season against the Hurricanes.

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Harry Wilson scores as the Reds get off the perfect start


HURRICANES vs REDS, Friday 5.05pm AEST in Wellington

The Reds will be without backline stars James O’Connor and Suliasi Vunivalu for their final game of the Super Rugby trans-Tasman season against the Hurricanes.

Five-eighth O’Connor is still battling a neck injury that also kept him out last week while winger Vunivalu is still tending to a hamstring issue suffered in the loss to the Blues.

The good news is that Bryce Hegarty has overcome a minor hamstring injury that sidelined him in round four and will start at No.10 in place of Hamish Stewart.

Josh Flook starts in place of Vunivalu on the right wing while Angus Blyth gets the nod at lock ahead of Ryan Smith.

The 1-3 Reds cannot qualify for the final.

“We’re looking forward to getting back over to Wellington – we haven’t been there since 2018,” Reds coach Brad Thorn said.

“The Hurricanes are playing for a finals spot and we’re expecting a tough battle against them.

“We want to finish the season well and put in a good performance for our Queensland fans back home.”


REDS (15-1): Mac Grealy, Josh Flook, Hunter Paisami, Isaac Henry, Filipo Daugunu, Bryce Hegarty, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright (c), Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Feao Fotuaika

Reserves: Richie Asiata, Harry Hoopert, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Fraser McReight, Kalani Thomas, Hudson Creighton, Moses Sorovi

Referee: James Doleman (NZ)

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Len Ikitau scores for the Brumbies

BRUMBIES vs HIGHLANDERS, Friday 7.45pm AEST in Canberra

The Highlanders will welcome back outstanding halfback Aaron Smith as they chase a spot in the trans-Tasman final.

Co-captain Smith missed the win over the Waratahs due to All Blacks rest protocols and returns for Kayne Hammington.

The only other change to the starting lineup is Hugh Renton in at blindside for James Lentjes.

The second-placed Highlanders are jostling with the first-placed Blues and third-placed Crusaders for a berth in the June 19 final, with bonus points and points differential crucial.

But simply winning will be a tough task away to a Brumbies side that knocked off the Hurricanes last weekend.

“As we do with all the Aussie teams, we’re going into this game respecting them and respecting their game,” Highlanders assistant coach Riki Flutey said.

“We’re not putting that extra pressure on ourselves because we want to go into the game with control, making sure that we aren’t loose with our structures.”


HIGHLANDERS (15-1): Josh Ioane, Patelesio Tomkinson, Michael Collins, Scott Gregory, Jona Nareki, Mitch Hunt, Aaron Smith (co-c), Kazuki Himeno, Billy Harmon, Hugh Renton, Pari Pari Parkinson, Bryn Evans, Siate Tokolahi, Ash Dixon (co-c), Ethan de Groot

Reserves: Liam Coltman, Ayden Johnstone, Josh Hohneck, Josh Dickson, James Lentjes, Kayne Hammington, Sam Gilbert, Teariki Ben-Nicholas

Referee: Mike Fraser (NZ)

Stacey Ili scores for the Rebels

REBELS vs CRUSADERS, Saturday 2.35pm AEST in Sydney



Referee: Nic Berry (AUS)

Toni Pulu scores for the Western Force

BLUES vs FORCE, Saturday 5.05pm AEST in Auckland



Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (NZ)

WARATAHS vs CHIEFS, Saturday 7.45pm AEST in Sydney



Referee: Jordan Way (AUS)

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