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Turinui out for rest of Super 14 season

By Jim Morton 27/02/2009 07:54:44 PM Comments (0)

Wallabies winger Digby Ioane's transition to Queensland's unlucky No.13 role has taken on extra importance with veteran Morgan Turinui ruled out of the Super 14 season.

In a major blow, the Reds have lost their most experienced back until 2010 with outside centre Turinui to undergo a full shoulder reconstruction next week.

The former Wallabies vice-captain initially sustained the injury on last year's European development tour and then aggravated it with a nasty knock last month in a trial in Auckland.

The Reds' 13 curse continued in the Super 14 season opener with Turinui's replacement, bone-crunching defender Charlie Fetoai, also sidelined by a shoulder injury.

Ioane was shifted to outside centre at short notice for the 27-24 last-start loss to the Stormers but quickly impressed in both attack and defence.

The explosive speedster will start his second match there against the Cheetahs on Sunday, coach Phil Mooney confident his destructive ball-running can be harnessed as well in the midfield as on the flank.

"It's bad luck for Morgan, his experience has been extremely valuable in the Reds backline," he said.

"It just means we play a different style of game slightly. I don't think it means any more pressure on Digby. He's a player who's developing all the time.

"The positive that comes out of it is he gets more exposure closer in at 13.

"It will also give Morgan the opportunity to come back in really good physical nick with an extended focus on strength and conditioning and I think it will make him a better player."

Mooney will have a close eye on Fetoai's return for the Reds Second XV on Sunday, as the 22-year-old allows the luxury of moving Ioane back to his Test position where he blitzed the Bulls in the opening round.

But Turinui's loss - before he'd added to his 71 Super rugby caps after signing a new two-year deal - robs the Reds of priceless backline experience.

"That's Murphy's Law isn't it," mused Mooney. "If you have three world class halfbacks they never get injured but if you are thin in a position....

"Like our three big locks - Horwill, McMeniman and Taylor - who were all unavailable in South Africa. That's footy."

Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman has returned from compassionate leave in a major boost for the crucial clash with the big Cheetahs pack at Suncorp Stadium.

Visiting coach Naka Drotske admitted the 30-degree heat and high humidity forecast could be a problem for his men but felt they were ready to end their Australasian hoodoo after failing to win in 16 games away from South Africa.

Drotske has made just two changes to his bench from the 16-10 loss to the Western Force, including the return from wrist surgery of winger Jongi Nokwe who scored a record four tries on Test debut against Australia last year.

Mooney has underlined the importance of Queensland starting the second-half on the right note after conceding soft tries against the Bulls and Stormers immediately following half-time.

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