Reds back Jarrad Butler to replace Liam Gill
March 21, 2013
Liam Gill's absence leaves a massive hole to fill © Getty Images
Queensland Reds have made five changes and are down to their fourth-choice fetcher, but their game plan for Saturday night is crystal clear on: run the Bulls into the ground.
Ewen McKenzie isn't hiding the fact that he aims aim to exhaust the Bulls pack with a high-octane game that has worked wonders against the South Africans in their past two Super Rugby visits to Suncorp Stadium. But the main linkman in pulling the strategy off, red-hot openside flanker Liam Gill, has been rested from the clash with a minor knee injury.
Hence Wellington-born Jarrad Butler must step up in the vital position, with back-up No. 7 Beau Robinson also sidelined with ankle injury and Radike Samo's absence with a knee injury preventing a backrow reshuffle for No.8 Jake Schatz to start at openside.
Butler, 21, faces a daunting baptism, but McKenzie has plenty of faith that he can fill Gill's boots. "Liam's been outstanding," the coach said. "But in the end, what I like about Jarrad Butler is he knows all three back-row positions. He'll fill in well. He's a very tidy player, doesn't make mistakes, and he's got good rugby instincts."
Butler prefers to play No. 6 or No. 8, but he says jersey numbers will mean little as the Reds try to stop the Bulls forwards gaining momentum up the middle. "We really have to really run them off their feet and, when we do go wide, we're going to have to be there and make sure it's all clean [recycled ball at the breakdown]," he said.