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St.George Queensland Reds and Wallabies talent has bolstered the line-ups of Sunnybank and University ahead of their Queensland Premier Rugby Grand Final at Ballymore on Sunday (kickoff 3:05pm).
Reds centres Mike Harris and Ben Tapuai and lock Rob Simmons have all been released from Wallaby duty to take part in the 2012 Hospital Cup encounter before re-joining the team in South Africa early next week.
It’s a major boost for both teams with University searching for their second title triumph in three seasons after winning in 2010 while Sunnybank are pursuing back-to-back Hospital Cups after their victory last season.
Harris has been chosen at flyhalf for the Red Heavies where he will join Super Rugby teammates Luke Morahan and James Hanson.
“Obviously a lot of the guys were involved two years ago so they know what’s involved to win,” captain James Hanson said.
“It will be very tough; they’ve obviously got a high-powered team for the weekend.”
While Hanson said it was great to be joined by Harris and Morahan, he said it would take a team effort to beat the Dragons.
“They (Harris and Morahan) always add a lot when they come back to club footy,” he said.
“Obviously they’re both pushing for higher honours, as is everyone in the team, but we’ve always had a fair few representatives but never relied on those guys to win us games.
“Sunnybank have always had big powerful players so their set piece is always strong.
“Their go-to is always through the forwards and then they’ve always had plenty of talent out wide so we’ll be looking to shut that down.”
University will be helped in this area by having last weekend off, following their dominate 59-12 victory over Brothers in the Major Semi-Final two weeks ago.
“We’ve had plenty of niggles throughout the year and I think that extra week has given us time to refresh and definitely time to re-charge the batteries,” Hanson said.
For Sunnybank, the inclusion of Simmons strengthens an already formidable forward pack which includes Reds hooker Albert Anae and replacement prop Greg Holmes, while Ben Tapuai headlines the Dragons backs.
Assistant Coach Adam Wallace Harrison said securing the services of Wallabies’ Simmons and Tapuai was a large boost ahead of the Grand Final.
“They (Simmons and Tapuai) are going to make a massive difference but having said that guys like Richard Kingi and Paul Alo-Emile from the Rebels have been stepping up too,” Wallace Harrison said.
“Guys like Luke Morahan and James Hanson for University are going to make a massive difference for them as well.
Tapuai said the Dragons are treating the match like any other in their preparations.
“I know it’s a Grand Final, but we’re just trying to treat it like a normal game,” Tapuai said.
“If we do that then I guess we’re a good chance of winning it.”
The 23-year-old said the key area for his side was to be aware of the right play at the right time.
“I think just our awareness will be key,” he said.
“Using a lot more width of the field and kicking at the right times and doing the simple stuff right that gets us over the gain line or the try line.”
Entry into the Queensland Premier Rugby and Brisbane Rugby Grand Finals for adults is $15 on Sunday and $10 on Saturday. Both days are free for children (15 years and younger). Limited parking will also be available at Ballymore. Spectators are encouraged to carpool.
Download the 2012 Queensland Premier and Brisbane Rugby Grand Final Program here: http://www.redsrugby.com.au/LinkClick.aspx?fileticket=qoV_26bmxRw%3d&tabid=501.
To check out the action from the Queensland Premier Rugby Preliminary Final and a preview of the Grand Final click here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-aEOMXKNPE8&list=UUeKNkdNPa1eZbwz3uYcXFbw&index=1&feature=plcp.
22 MAY 2013
20 MAY 2013