Reds second-rowers eye higher honours - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Reds second-rowers eye higher honours

By Jim Morton 16/04/2010 06:13:17 PM Comments (0)

Reds second-row odd couple - Van Humphries and Rob Simmons - can stamp themselves as Wallabies bolters by standing up to Victor Matfield's Bulls on Saturday night.

Journeyman Humphries, 34, and young pup Simmons, 20, will join the wide open selection race for Australian lock places if Queensland triumph at Suncorp Stadium.

In a stern acid test to their Super 14 finals aspirations, the Reds need their unsung second-rowers to play a vital role in stopping the charge of the Bulls' intimidating pack.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will be in the stands to assess how Queensland's uncapped forwards attempt to nullify the Springbok-studded visitors to allow Will Genia and Quade Cooper to spark their dangerous backline.

Bulls skipper and Springbok stalwart Matfield stands as the premier lock in the game and is the heartbeat of the defending champions outfit.

He controls the lineout which the Bulls use as their platform for the menacing driving game and is also the best in the business in analysing opposing lineouts.

Both Humphries and Simmons have called the Reds set-piece at different times this season and will have to have their wits about them to ensure Matfield and fellow Springboks Pierre Spies and Danie Rossouw don't pilfer their throws.

Despite Humphries age, he has marked himself with Nathan Sharpe and Dean Mumm as the most consistent and influential Australian second-rowers in the competition this season.

With Reds skipper James Horwill (knee) out for the year and Mark Chisholm struggling to start with the Brumbies, Sharpe and Mumm look set to start the Test season as the Wallabies locks.

In his third stint with Queensland, 203cm Humphries, an Australia A player in 2001, hasn't ruled out becoming one of the oldest ever Test debutants.

"If I'm in a successful team that will have a bit of influence on selection at the end of the year," he said.

"I'm not sure if (age) has any affect on Wallabies selection, I hope not.

"I think there's a lot of Reds putting their hands up at the moment: Scotty Higginbotham, Laurie Weeks and young guys like Rob Simmons and Ben Daley, who has been outstanding from week one."

While Deans has punted on youth since taking over the Wallabies in 2008, Humphries is the same age Brad Thorn was when the former Crusaders coach lured him back from league in late 2007.

Simmons, to turn 21 on Monday, looms as a project player in the Wallabies squad like Waratah Kane Douglas.

The 200cm central Queensland product has risen above Melbourne-bound Adam Byrnes, who is now out of the Reds 22 after starting six of the first seven matches.

Victory over the Bulls would be a launch pad into a first finals series in nine seasons for the fifth-placed Reds but would also go a long way to capping the efforts of the previous nine weeks.

"Selection is a reward over time, you don't get anything from one game," said coach Ewen McKenzie.

"If we get consistency in the season we will push some people into that space."

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