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Matwijow makes Reds debut against Bulls

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The Reds have named a team with one change to play the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld as Ben Matwijow makes his Super Rugby starting debut.

The Reds beat the Highlanders in their last outing so have tried to remain consistent with their selections but injuries have forced their hand.

Lock Rob Simmons has been replaced by Ben Matwijow due to a shoulder injury and the match will be Matwijow’s first start in Super Rugby.

There are also two changes to the bench, with uncapped Queensland Under-20s lock Lukhan Tui and scrumhalf James Tuttle in line to make their debut.

Tui’s inclusion follows Matwijow’s promotion to the starting side, while 2015 Queensland Country captain Tuttle has replaced injured Number 9 Scott Gale (hand).

Both players featured heavily in Queensland’s title success in the Super U20s Championship earlier this month and were this week named in the Australian Under-20s squad for the upcoming Oceania Rugby U20s Championship at Bond University, Gold Coast this May.

Reds co-interim head coach Nick Stiles said: “While there are a couple of changes, we’ve managed to maintain a reasonable level of continuity throughout the side so far this season and those combinations are starting to show.

“It’s disappointing not to have the experience of Rob (Simmons) there this weekend, but we thought it was best to give his shoulder another week to heal. Ben (Matwijow) has been making a solid impact off the bench and we know he can do a job for us on Saturday night.

“It also presents a great opportunity for Lukhan (Tui) to potentially make his debut. Even though he was part of the Queensland Under-20s, he has been training with the squad since pre-season and has a heck of a lot of potential. ”

“James (Tuttle) is another guy who has been training with us all year and we’re confident he is ready to play at this level. Having the Queensland Under-20s as part of our program is a massive benefit. We’ve worked with the guys, seen them play and know what they’re capable of.

“The Bulls are a physical side and tough to play at home, but it’s a great test for this group to try to get a result against the odds in a pretty hostile environment.”

Reds

1. James Slipper (C) , 2. Andrew Ready , 3. Greg Holmes , 4. Cadeyrn Neville , 5. Ben Matwijow (starting debut) , 6. Hendrik Tui , 7. Liam Gill , 8. Jake Schatz , 9. Nick Frisby , 10. Jake McIntyre , 11. Eto Nabuli , 12. Anthony Fainga’a , 13. Samu Kerevi , 14. Chris Feauai-Sautia , 15. Karmichael Hunt

Replacements : 16. Saia Fainga’a , 17. Sef Fa’agase , 18. Sam Talakai , 19. Lukhan Tui (uncapped) , 20. Curtis Browning , 21. James Tuttle (uncapped) , 22. Sam Greene , 23. Ayumu Goromaru

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