Reds lose Morahan to the Force
April 8, 2013
Luke Morahan (r) made his Wallabies debut against Scotland in 2012 © PA Photos
Luke Morahan will leave the Queensland Reds to link with the Force in the search of more starting opportunities in Super Rugby.
However the Reds have fought off both the Force and the New South Wales Waratahs to keep rising Wallabies hooker James Hanson at Ballymore next season, while second rower Rob Simmons is also set to remain in Queensland.
Morahan's loss comes as the blazing winger-fullback looks to establish himself as a regular starter after four years on the fringes with the Reds.
He started at fullback in Australia's opening Test of 2012 against Scotland but has been overlooked as Queensland No. 15 in the past month, with the rugged Jono Lance replacing an injured Mike Harris.
Morahan started on the wing in the Reds' last-start 34-33 win over the Highlanders but may again be dumped with Digby Ioane striving to return from a knee problem and fit-again Rod Davies also in the picture.
Completing the Reds-Force tug-of-war, former Queensland prop and Force assistant coach Nick Stiles will return to his old franchise in 2014 as forwards coach.
The Reds are set to announce Hanson's re-signing in the coming days after a long fight to keep him in Brisbane after he started the first month of this season on the bench, hemmed in behind Saia Faingaa.
Hanson, 24, had been tipped to join the Force before the Waratahs also went hard for the rake's signature but opted to stick with the certainty of the Reds program and playing list.
"James had a lot of potential to move elsewhere in Australia in the last couple of weeks but we've had some really positive discussions," head coach Richard Graham said.
Hanson and Faingaa, who may return from a neck injury against the pacesetting Chiefs on Saturday, will continue to battle for the Reds No.2 jersey as well as Wallabies squad selection as third-choice hooker behind Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Wallabies second-rower Rob Simmons has also agreed to stay in Brisbane but his next contract won't be finalised until after his top-up negotiations finish with the Australian Rugby Union.
Simmons and Hanson have been two of the Reds' most consistent forwards and their retention, staying with a team that has a number of Test stars already on contract for 2014, is a good sign for Queensland.
Director of coaching Ewen McKenzie is confident red-hot flanker Liam Gill (thumb) will start against the defending champion Chiefs in Hamilton, but back-up No. 7 Beau Robinson's return from an ankle injury is still a couple of weeks away.