Super Rugby


Reds have depth to cover Slipper injury

St.George Queensland Reds forwards coach Nick Stiles said he is confident the depth within the club can cover the absence of injured prop James Slipper.

Slipper, who today had surgery to repair a shoulder injury, is expected to return in the early stages of the 2016 Super Rugby season. 

Stiles said it shouldn’t be viewed as a setback for the club – but an opportunity to showcase its depth.

The Reds have a number of promising young props on their books who will be joined by experienced campaigners Ben Daley and Greg Holmes. 

Daley missed the back end of the 2015 season due to injury, but is due to return from a shoulder reconstruction in time for pre-season training. Holmes returns to the Reds with the added experience of being a key member of Australia’s Rugby World Cup campaign.

“Ben (Daley) has missed a lot of Rugby recently but he's got a lot of experience and he's fit and raring to go for day one of pre-season. He's the most senior loosehead prop in the squad outside of James. He was part of the 2011 winning side and he’s played for the Wallabies,” Stiles said.

“Greg (Holmes) has plenty of experience and has benefitted over the last couple of years from a really competitive training environment. He worked hard to get himself back into the Wallabies and he’s keen to continue that form. 

"To have guys of their calibre and experience in the side is a great benefit for the program and will certainly help our younger guys.”

Stiles said he was also looking forward to seeing the continued development of the club's young front rowers.

“The last two years we've gone about accruing the best depth in front row stock in Australia,” Stiles said.

“Last year Greg (Holmes) missed the first five games due to injury and that provided an opportunity for the younger guys to step up and we still had the most dominant scrum in the competition, winning the most penalties and free kicks at scrum time and we’re all committed to maintaining that dominance.

“While it’s disappointing to be losing James (Slipper) for the start of the season, this is another opportunity and we’ve seen through the last two Super Rugby and NRC seasons we have the depth in the front row.

“It's been evident through players’ performances. Young guys like Sam Talakai, Pettowa Paraka and Sef Fa’agase have had two years of NRC now and have all had a taste of Super Rugby. Brisbane City and Queensland Country had two of the best scrums in the NRC and that was due to our young talent.

"Then you've got a young guy like Taniela Tupou who is only 19 but trained with the Reds throughout 2015 and played a full season of club Rugby before he had a run in the NRC. He'll be better for the experience he had this year and we expect him to progress even further with another full season of development.

"The NRC allowed them to get that experience of a higher level of Rugby. In the past you'd go straight from club to Super Rugby and it was sink or swim, but now the pathway is so much better. They're all getting their learning accelerated."

The NRC also saw Talakai and Paraka claim back-to-back titles with McInnes Wilson Lawyers Brisbane City, with Talakai captaining the side during one of its regular season matches.

Reds core squad props in 2016
Ben Daley - 76 Super Rugby caps
Sef Fa'agase - 8 Super Rugby caps
Greg Holmes - 130 Super Rugby caps
Pettowa Paraka - 6 Super Rugby caps
James Slipper - 81 Super Rugby caps
Sam Talakai - 14 Super Rugby caps
Taniela Tupou - Uncapped

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