The Super Rugby AU season draws to a close on Saturday evening, with the Queensland Reds and ACT Brumbies once again battling it out in the highly-anticipated grand final.
Although the Reds topped the ladder this year with seven wins, this talented Brumbies outfit is by no means easybeats.
The defending champions trumped the Western Force 21-9 in last weekend’s qualifying final, while Queensland is coming off a two-week break.
Earlier on Saturday, the Crusaders clinched the Super Rugby Aotearoa tournament with a 24-13 victory over the Chiefs in Christchurch — despite copping two yellow cards in wet conditions.
The Crusaders make it five in a row ?????
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Kick-off at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium is scheduled for 7.45 pm local time.
The Reds have not won a Super Rugby title since their famous victory over the Crusaders in 2011 at the same venue.
O’Connor’s captaincy shock
James O’Connor’s initial surprise at being told he would captain Queensland for the grand final has been replaced by a steely determination to lead the Reds to their first title since 2011.
While it came as a huge shock to outsiders when it was announced Queensland captain Liam Wright – who had missed of the season with an ankle injury – had been dropped to the bench and that O’Connor would be skipper, he had known since last week.
“It was a little surprise but I’ve known for a while now though,” O’Connor said.
“There’s been a team that’s done the job for six, seven weeks, and Liam’s come back from a pretty lengthy injury. We know he’ll do the job coming off the bench for us.
“I’ve got the ‘c’ beside my name (on Saturday night) but when Liam comes on we’ll just got back and forth like we normally do.
“If he’s not on there, then I’ve got other guys as well who I can go back and forth with, It’s not just a one-man job.”
Having been part of the Reds’ side that lost 28-23 to the Brumbies last year, O’Connor is determined to go one better with an improved Reds outfit.
“This’ll be the first silverware that I’ve been a part of on Australian soil,” he said.
“Everyone talks about it as being another game, but it isn’t another game, it’s a final.”
— NCA NewsWire
Brumbies captain Alan Alaatoa and his Reds counterpart James O’Connor.Source:Supplied
Reds starting XV: Bryce Hegarty, Jordan Petaia, Josh Flook, Hamish Stewart, Jock Campbell, James O’Connor (c), Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Ryan Smith, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Feao Fotuaika
Reserves: Alex Mafi, Dane Zander, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Liam Wright, Kalani Thomas, Isaac Henry, Filipo Daugunu
Brumbies starting XV: Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead, Len Ikitau, Irae Simone, Tom Wright, Noah Lolesio, Nic White, Rob Valetini, Rory Scott, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Darcy Swain, Allan Alaalatoa (c), Lachlan Lonergan, Scott Sio
Reserves: Folau Fainga’a, Harry Lloyd, Tom Ross, Henry Stowers, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Reesjan Pasitoa, Mack Hansen
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