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Reds in crisis as Lucas and Harris return home

Mike Harris returning home to Australia

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Article Published: Sunday 18 March 2012|

The Reds were thrown into crisis at fly half after their fourth round loss to the Sharks as Ben Lucas and Mike Harris have been forced out of the tour leaving the current champions without a fly half.

Lucas and Harris had both been filling in the number 10 jersey while Quade Cooper continues with his rehabilitation but will return to Australia earlier than expected return to Australia after being ruled out of the round five Super Rugby encounter against the Bulls in Pretoria.

Lucas and Harris both sustained hamstring injuries during the Reds loss to the Sharks at the weekend and will now return to Australia on Monday to commence a rehabilitation process which will keep them out of action for a minimum of three weeks.

The overall injury situation at the Reds, magnified by the loss of Lucas and Harris, has forced coach Ewen McKenzie to look outside his normal squad for replacements and he has selected backs Joel Rapana and Nathan Eyres-Brown to join the team in South Africa.

Rapana, 25, represented Queensland A in their final two games of the 2012 Pacific Rugby Cup tournament earlier in the year and has previously featured at Super Rugby level for the Western Force, his debut coming against the Hurricanes in 2010.

Rapana was also contracted to the Gold Coast Titans rugby league team in 2007-08 after enjoying a prolific junior career in the 13-a-side game, which included Australia Schoolboy selection in 2004.

Eyres-Brown, 22, is a member of the Reds' 2012 Wider Training Squad while his previous honours include Australian Sevens, Queensland Country and playing for the Gold Coast Breakers at Queensland Premier Rugby level.

"Losing your two healthy goal kickers and playmakers at the number 10 position is far from an ideal scenario but we'll reassess in coming days and come up with a plan best suited for our final game on tour against the Bulls," coach Ewen McKenzie said.

"We are extremely disappointed to have lost to the Sharks but it was arguably our best attacking performance of the season and there are a number of positives we'll take from the match. We are heading in the right direction with how we want to play the game."

The Reds enter their round five contest against the Bulls as leaders of the Australia Conference with their 27-22 loss to the Sharks their first defeat of the season following earlier successes over the Waratahs, Force and Rebels.

The Reds were triumphant in their last encounter against the Bulls, a 39-30 victory at Suncorp Stadium, although haven't overcome the South African heavyweights in Pretoria since 2001.

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