Queensland Super Rugby franchise the Reds have left Stephen Moore out of their 29-man squad for their one-week tour to Apia, Samoa to take on the Blues from Auckland.
It is the first Super Rugby match to be played in Samoa and the first major Rugby match to be played under lights at Apia Park National Stadium, and coincides with Samoa’s 55th Anniversary of Independence celebrations.
“The players and staff are all excited to take part in this historic occasion,” Reds head coach Nick Stiles said.
“I’ve had the privilege of touring Samoa with teams before. It’s a wonderful country and I know we’ll receive a warm welcome from the locals, who are incredibly passionate about Rugby.
“We’ve got a lot of players with Samoan heritage in our squad and being in Apia for the week to prepare for the game will allow us to spend plenty of time in the community, which the guys are really looking forward to.
“The team is bitterly disappointed with last night’s performance, so it’s good to be able to spend a week abroad together to continue to build on our season and work hard together to get a win against a tough New Zealand opponent.”
The tour squad features eight players with Samoan heritage, including Sef Fa’agase, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Karmichael Hunt, Duncan Paia’aua, Caleb Timu, Hendrik Tui, Lukhan Tui and Henry Taefu, who was born in Apia.
The only major omission from the squad is hooker Stephen Moore, who will remain in Brisbane for the week, as Stiles continues to manage his workload.
“When we signed Stephen for three years, we knew we’d have to manage his workload to ensure his longevity. He’s an experienced player in an attritional position and we always planned for moments like this in the season where we’d provide him the opportunity to freshen up,” Stiles said.
“Thankfully we’ve got some genuine depth and competition for the Number 2 jersey and while we’re leaving Stephen at home, it provides further opportunity for Alex Mafi and Andrew Ready. We’ve been really pleased with the way Alex has stepped up into a more senior role this season and Andrew’s been working hard in the background for a number of weeks. We’re looking forward to seeing him return to the strong form he demonstrated last season.”
Queensland Reds squad for tour to Samoa