Super Rugby
Ben Tapuai wins battle for Reds' No.13 jumper
February 20, 2014
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview the weekend's Super Rugby action

Richard Graham has omitted rising Wallabies three-quarter Chris Feauai-Sautia from his Queensland Reds backline for their Super Rugby opener against the Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday. Feauai-Sautia will be on the bench at Canberra Stadium, along with defensive linchpin Anthony Fainga'a, after Ben Tapuai won the Reds' hotly-contested outside centre berth.

In a starting team featuring 12 Wallabies, Aidan Toua is the only non-Test back after beating Lachie Turner to the fullback jersey. Turner instead will make his first Super Rugby start after his move from New South Wales Waratahs on the right wing, with Dom Shipperley preferred to Rod Davies and Feauai-Sautia on the left flank.

Papua New Guinea-born Toua started the past three seasons in the Reds' 22, but a string of hamstring injuries were his undoing. He was rewarded for his stand-out form in the Reds' two trials. "I've had to build my patience," Toua said. "I won't lie, it hasn't been easy, but good things come to people who wait I guess. It has been pretty tough over the last few years but 2014 is a new year. I've tried to stay out from under the ladders and away from black cats."

Graham was always going to have a selection headache with four Wallabies striving for two midfield positions, but Mike Harris' solid trial form won him the No.12 jersey beside Tapuai, who has played the bulk of his career at inside centre.

Graham, meanwhile, made one slight surprise in a settled forward pack, switching Wallabies prop James Slipper from tight-head to loose-head, where he plays Test rugby, after preferring veteran Greg Holmes to Ben Daley in the front-row.

Greg Growden's team-by-team preview

© SANZAR (Image Supplied)

The Brumbies won the corresponding match in 2013, claiming a bruising 24-6 victory in Canberra, and Graham expects another rugged tussle.

"Traditionally the early rounds of Super Rugby tend to be highly physical encounters," Graham said. "Add to that the fact it is a derby and you can expect a fairly bruising opening round of the Australian conference."

Queensland: Aidan Toua; Lachie Turner, Ben Tapuai, Mike Harris, Dom Shipperley; Quade Cooper, Will Genia; Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Ed Quirk; James Horwill, Rob Simmons; Greg Holmes, Saia Fainga'a, James Slipper. Replacements: James Hanson, Ben Daley, Jono Owen, Ed ODonoghue, Beau Robinson, Nick Frisby, Anthony Fainga'a, Chris Feauai-Sautia.

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