Turinui not in Reds side for Africa tour - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Turinui not in Reds side for Africa tour

By Jim Morton 18/03/2010 07:40:17 PM Comments (0)

Reds coach Ewen McKenzie has insisted Queensland's future remains in safe hands despite being angered by the defection of rising prop Laurie Weeks to the Melbourne Rebels.

On a dramatic day, starting with the surprise exclusion of veteran centre Morgan Turinui from the 26-man tour squad to South Africa, Weeks was announced as the Rebels' first Australian-based signing.

While McKenzie found Weeks' decision difficult to fathom, he was quick to reassure Reds fans by revealing he and general manager Daniel Herbert had 22 players on the books for the 2011 Super 15 season and beyond.

They include Wallabies stars James Horwill, Digby Ioane and Will Genia, who re-signed last year, as well as 15 of the 23 players who come off contract in 2010.

Of the 23 only the Faingaa twins, hooker Saia and centre Anthony, have been formally announced as staying at Ballymore after signing a new two-year deal this week.

But McKenzie has chosen to keep the identity of other committed Reds secret to ensure unsigned off-contract players aren't discouraged or anxious as they work through negotiations.

"We don't want to fill the roster too early," he said. "We've got 22 for next year and obviously we have others we're working on.

"It's not some half-arsed job to grab (players), we've actually been quite targeted.

"I've been working at it with Daniel Herbert who's done a great job as well to secure the heart of the team for the long haul and we're quite confident we're a long way down the track.

"We want to live in the moment which is 2010."

McKenzie admitted the Reds still had some hurdles, proven by Australian Super 14 rookie of 2009 Weeks' move south.

He described the tight-head's decision to follow his former Sydney University mentor and new Rebels assistant coach Damien Hill to Melbourne as illogical considering he'd become Wallabies material at Ballymore.

Queensland assistant forwards coach Alec Evans feared Weeks would pay the price for leaving the tutelage of 51-Test prop McKenzie.

"If he had another season with the Reds I'm sure it would have elevated him to the Wallabies," Evans said.

But Evans was confident Weeks' loss would be covered in 2011 with Greg Holmes stepping up to the mark at tight-head and young guns Jack Kennedy and James Slipper showing great potential.

Playmaker Quade Cooper and fellow Wallabies back Peter Hynes remain at the top of the Reds' must-keep list but the pair can't re-sign until sorting out top-up deals with the ARU.

Queensland are also believed to have lost lock Adam Byrnes and reserve halfback Richard Kingi to the Rebels.

Former Wallabies vice-captain Turinui is one who also appears on the outer after being surprisingly overlooked for the Reds' 26-man squad to tour South Africa.

McKenzie admitted Ioane's successful move to outside centre in the 50-10 thrashing of the Western Force and a desire to develop Will Chambers and Ben Tapuai had cost the 28-year-old.

"We obviously know a lot about Morgan but there's a couple of other guys we want to find a little more about," he said.

Winger Rod Davies has returned from a fractured cheekbone for the three-match tour while in-form flanker Daniel Braid has been cleared of a knee injury.

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