'Mongrel' McMeniman back for Reds - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

'Mongrel' McMeniman back for Reds

By Jim Morton 25/02/2009 06:35:52 PM Comments (0)

Battling entertainers Queensland have their "mongrel" back with Hugh McMeniman set to be unleashed in Sunday's Super 14 clash with the Cheetahs.

Wallabies forward McMeniman has been chosen to make an inspirational return for the Reds at Suncorp Stadium after missing the opening two rounds due to a serious family illness.

The 21-Test lock-flanker was sorely missed in both losses in South Africa and is determined to add extra muscle and aggression against one of the biggest packs in the competition.

"It's always good to have Hughie back in the side - another mongrel, another seven foot man in the team, it's awesome," said Reds blind-side flanker Scott Higginbotham.

"Hughie is a Wallaby, a great player and will be a Test player for years to come and he's always missed but he's back now so he's ready to rip in.

"He's been through a lot but he's keen to play footy."

Higginbotham's brilliant display in the thrilling 27-24 loss to the Stormers last weekend ensures McMeniman will be named in the second-row on Thursday rather than in his preferred No.6 jersey.

But he'll be relieved just to be on the field after taking the mantle as Australia's most luckless player since breaking onto the international scene with a storming European tour in 2005.

The 200cm, 114kg battering ram has played just 11 out of 41 Super 14 matches in the past four seasons, enduring serious shoulder, neck and ankle injuries before requiring this month's compassionate leave.

Coach Phil Mooney said McMeniman's grave family situation meant there were no guarantees about his involvement in the Reds' opening home game of the season.

"Our thoughts are with him but he's indicated he wants to play and it's great for us to have him back," Mooney said.

"I can't begin to talk about what he's going through but I do know it's certainly difficult and rugby probably is a good outlet for him."

Also in a boost, injured skipper Berrick Barnes confidently declared he would overcome a badly corked thigh while hooker Sean Hardman (ankle) is also expected to come up for the must-win match.

Ben Lucas will again swap jerseys with fellow halfback Will Genia after making an impact off the bench against the Stormers.

Lucas's goalkicking also helped him regain the No.9 jersey as Quade Cooper's two first-half misses proved highly costly.

Explosive Test winger Digby Ioane's position in the backline depends on whether fellow Wallabies flyer Peter Hynes (knee) and/or outside centre Charlie Fetoai (shoulder) are passed fit.

Attacking demon Ioane has been a shining light in the defeats to the Stormers and Bulls, both at wing and No.13, and Mooney has no problems picking him in either role as the Reds look to move off the bottom of the ladder.

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