Super 14 2009
Reds' preparations underway
October 24, 2008
Wallaby lock James Horwill will captain the Reds in 2009 © Getty Images
The new look Queensland Reds rugby squad assembles at Ballymore on Monday to begin preparations for the 2009 Super 14 season, which kicks off against the Hurricanes at Suncorp Stadium on February 7.
The squad of 32 - more than a third of them new to the squad in 2009 - will go through hundreds of hours of pre-season training and three trial matches in the months ahead before Head Coach Phil Mooney decides which 22 players should open the Reds' 2009 campaign.
Three of the new recruits are graduates of the QAS Reds Academy - wing Blair Connor, hooker James Hanson and fullback Aidan Toua - while fullback Rod Davies was a Queensland and Australian Schoolboy representative before spending the past two years with the Brisbane Broncos rugby league outfit.
Prop Jack Kennedy joins the Reds from the Brumby Runners and fellow prop Laurie Weeks has been recruited on the basis of his strong form in Sydney club rugby. Lock Adam Byrnes was a member of the Waratahs Academy in 2007 following a stint playing professionally in Europe. ACT Brumbies twins Anthony and Saia Faingaa (centre and hooker) and Otago Highlanders No 8 Ezra Taylor have previous Super 14 experience, while fullback Mark McLinden arrives at the Reds a seasoned professional after more than a decade playing top level rugby league with the Canberra Raiders and London's Harlequins.
Kiwi international flanker Daniel Braid will join the squad in December. Head Coach Phil Mooney said the playing depth of the 2009 squad should provide genuine competition for every position on the field.
"The coaching staff expect to be spoilt for choice when we sit down to pick the 22 for our opening game," Mooney said. "I can't remember a season where so many positions will be up for grabs from game one. There will be genuine competition for every position on the field.
"We should also have serious speed out wide, which the fans always love to see." The Reds face an intensive pre-season between now and the end of November, with a pre-Christmas burst in December and a four day camp in early January followed by three trial matches against a President's XV (Toowoomba, January 17), the Blues (Auckland, January 24) and Western Force (Ballymore, January 30).
Following the success of their "meet the fans" open training sessions in 2008, the Reds will again open one Ballymore session a week to fans, in addition to holding three off-site open sessions in November and December (dates and venues TBC).
The Reds' Wallaby contingent of Berrick Barnes, Peter Hynes, Hugh McMeniman, Digby Ioane and Quade Cooper will rejoin the squad in the new year, while 2008 captain and Wallaby James Horwill will miss the early part of the season with a foot injury.
2008 Queensland Reds Squad:
Berrick Barnes - Centre / Flyhalf
Daniel Braid - Flanker (formerly Blues, NZ)
Adam Byrnes - Lock (Waratahs Academy)
Blair Connor - Wing (QAS Reds Academy)
Quade Cooper - Flyhalf / Centre
Ben Daley - LH Prop
Rod Davies- Fullback (Broncos)
Dayna Edwards - TH Prop
Anthony Faingaa - Centre (Brumbies)
Saia Faingaa - Hooker (Brumbies)
Charlie Fetoai - Centre
Will Genia - Scrumhalf
James Hanson - Hooker (QAS Reds Academy)
Sean Hardman - Hooker
Scott Higginbotham - No 8
Greg Holmes- LH Prop
James Horwill - Lock
Leroy Houston - No 8
Van Humphries- Lock
Peter Hynes - Wing
Digby Ioane - Wing
Jack Kennedy - TH Prop (Brumby Runners)
Poutasi Luafutu - Flanker
Ben Lucas - Scrumhalf / Flyhalf
Mark McLinden - Fullback (Harlequins UK)
Hugh McMeniman - Flanker / Lock
Robert Simmons - Lock
Ezra Taylor - No 8 (Highlanders)
Aidan Toua - Fullback/Wing (QAS Reds Academy)
Morgan Turinui - Centre
Brando Va'aulu - Wing