Super 14
Reds bolster front row ranks
Scrum.com
January 29, 2009
The Brumbies' Saia Faingaa runs with the ball, Waratahs v Brumbies, Super 14, Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney, Australia, March 7, 2008
Hooker Saia Faingaa makes the switch from the Brumbies © Getty Images
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The Reds have bolstered their front row stocks ahead of the new Super 14 season with a host of new signings.

Interstate recruits Laurie Weeks, Jack Kennedy and Saia Faingaa, plus Reds Academy graduate James Hanson joining Wallabies Greg Holmes and Sean Hardman, 2008 discovery Dayna Edwards and 2008 Super 14 debut prop Ben Daley in the squad.

Coach Phil Mooney rates Holmes the squad's number one prop and he will lead the side in tomorrow's trial match against the Blues in Auckland. Hooker Hardman comes off the bench in the Blues trial but, as the most capped player in the squad (124 caps), is set to return to the line-up for the season kick-off.

Sydney recruit Weeks and 12 cap prop Edwards previously played alongside each other during the 2007 Australian Rugby Championships, anchoring a dominant Sydney Fleet scrum. "I was good mates with him then so it's good to come up here and play with him," said Weeks, who will come off the bench against the Blues.

Despite the summer heat and humidity, Weeks, a known scrummager and former member of the Junior Waratahs, is enjoying his time in Queensland. "It has been awesome. Temperature wise it's a lot hotter, but I'm loving it up here. Training's been tough, but we're getting stuck into it and we start playing soon, so that's a big plus."

Weeks trialled against the Waratahs in Toowoomba last week but was rested from the Blues trial because of a shoulder knock. Like Weeks, Kennedy has had to adjust to the weather after spending the previous two years playing for the Canberra Vikings and ACT Brumby Runners in often cold and wet conditions.

"It's definitely a change from where I used to live, but it has been good. All the boys are good blokes so it makes it easy," Kennedy said. "It's all healthy competition up here as there's only a few spots up for grabs and I think it makes everyone push that little bit harder to impress."

Kennedy, a member of the Australian Under 19 and Under 21 squads, possesses a broader skill set than most front rowers, with the 110kg prop known for his ball skills and quick feet. "It's probably unheard of for a prop, but I don't mind chucking the ball around a bit," he said.

Saia Faingaa is the most experienced of the front row recruits after joining the Reds from the ACT Brumbies, where he earned 27 caps since his debut in 2006. Faingaa and twin brother Anthony opted to move North to reunite with their former Australian Under 19 and current Reds coaches Mooney and Mark Bell.

"We've been coached by Phil and Mark (QR Reds Forwards' Coach) before coming into the Reds squad so we knew what we were in for and we knew what kind of coaching methods they would bring in," Faingaa said. "Being a forward I knew what Mark Bell was all about and that was probably one of the main reasons I came up here."

Hanson joined the senior squad from the Reds Academy after an impressive display during the end of season Development Tour of Ireland and France. The mobile hooker was also a key member of University's Premier Grade squad in 2008 after being honoured with the most improved player award at the Melbourne Rebels in the 2007 ARC.

Daley made his Super 14 debut off the bench against the Crusaders last year, and held his own in a tight game. Prior to that he won his first state cap in an end of season tour match against Japan in November, 2006.

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