Force pair to miss trial against Reds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force pair to miss trial against Reds

By Jim Morton 02/02/2009 06:54:38 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies Ryan Cross and Hugh McMeniman will be kept in cotton wool for vastly different reasons when otherwise full-strength Queensland and Western Force outfits clash in their last Super 14 warm-up.

Cross will start cold in the 16-week tournament, missing Thursday night's Brisbane trial to stay in Perth for the arrival of his second child.

Wife Danielle is due to give birth on Wednesday, meaning the incumbent Test outside centre will have no game time under his belt heading into the Force's competition opener against the Blues.

But Queensland have freely chosen to leave tenacious forward McMeniman underdone in match fitness to ensure he has a strong enough training base to get him through the cut-throat competition.

The versatile lock-flanker played 40 minutes in the Reds' 26-24 trial loss to the Blues in Auckland on Friday night but coach Phil Mooney has opted to give him a hard training week rather than play him against the Force.

A first-up clash against the Bulls in Pretoria, following a Monday flight to South Africa, has prompted the move to protect the Reds' ultra-aggressive yet precious commodity.

"It's always a balancing act trying to get the (pre-season training) work in for Test players before the competition starts," he said.

"Hugh's in good nick but just with a view to South Africa, that first week is a write-off as we arrive on the Monday and you have to get everything just right for the match.

Sydney recruit Adam Byrnes will now partner Van Humphries in a Reds second-row to lock horns with Force skipper Nathan Sharpe.

Mooney will name his Berrick Barnes-captained team on Tuesday after rival coach John Mitchell selected his squad, headlined by Matt Giteau and Sharpe among nine Wallabies, on Monday.

Young gun James O'Connor will come off the bench for the Force but also start the curtain-raiser for the Force Academy team against the Reds Academy.

Mitchell insisted Cross, who hasn't played since Australia's spring tour, would be ready to go against Blues at Subiaco Oval on February 13 through plenty of game-specific training.

"Family comes before games," Mitchell said.

"We are very fortunate that it is outside the competition, so we actually have to prepare Crossy very differently going into the competition."

The Reds also have a question mark over their No.13 for the start of the competition with Morgan Turinui carrying a shoulder problem.

Turinui is set to be named in the midfield alongside Barnes but Charlie Fetoai (knee) and Brando Va'aulu are on stand-by.

Force: Cameron Shepherd, Haig Sare, Josh Tatapu, Junior Pelesasa, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine; Richard Brown, David Pocock, Tamaiti Horua, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Pat O'Connor, AJ Whalley, Tai McIsaac, Pek Cowan. Res: Luke Holmes, Gareth Hardy, Tom Hockings, Matt Hodgson, Chris OYoung, James O'Connor, Nick Cummins, Kieran Longbottom, Scott Daruda.

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