Reds sign academy trio
Scrum.com
July 1, 2008

The Queensland Reds have signed full contracts with three of their academy players - prop Dayna Edwards and backrowers Poutasi Luafutu and Scott Higginbotham.

The three young forwards, who all made their Super 14 debuts last season, have each agreed to deals until 2010.

Luafutu is a 20-year-old former Queensland Under-16 and under-19 player and was a member of the Australian under-19 side which won the world championships in 2006 under coach Phil Mooney. While, New Zealand-born Edwards earned 12 caps during the 2008 Super 14 season after being spotted during the now-defunct Australian Rugby Championship.

The 23-year-old started playing club rugby in Sydney after arriving in Australia on holiday and got a contract with the Sydney Fleet in last year's Mazda Australian Rugby Championship. Reds forwards Coach Mark Bell spotted his potential and he was recruited into the Reds Academy before being fast tracked into the Reds training squad.

An Australian Sevens player, Higginbotham was the QAS Reds Academy Player of the Year in 2007. The 21-year old made his Reds debut off the bench against the Bulls in the fifth round and earned a total of five caps during the season.

QRU performance manager Ben Whitaker said all three will have important roles to play for the Reds over the next two years.

"Dayna only came into the professional system at the start of the year but improved so rapidly that by mid-season selectors were preferring him to Rodney Blake at tighthead prop. With the benefit of an intensive off-season athletic training program he should be in a position to play a very important role for the Reds in 2009," Whitaker said.

"Tasi put real pressure on David Croft during the year at open side flanker and finished the season at blindside flanker when John Roe was injured, while Scotty Higginbotham made a big impact coming mainly off the bench - starting with that memorable hit on Bryan Habana only a couple of minutes into his first Super 14 match."

"Like Dayna, both Tasi and Scott will really step it up another notch next year. They're all young, they're ambitious and they want to play Super 14 for the Reds and genuinely contribute to our success."

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