Reds ready to test Tahu



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Reds coach Phil Mooney dared his counterpart at the Waratahs Ewen McKenzie to gamble on big-name recruit Timana Tahu at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

McKenzie is yet to name his team for the Tahs must-win last-round Super 14 clash against the Reds amid speculation Tahu will be selected at outside centre.

Mooney is expecting the former NSW and Australia league winger to be pushed into the key role and didn’t hide his view the move could backfire on the under-pressure visitors.

Tahu has never started at No.13, a position which is widely regarded as the most difficult position defensively, despite being signed as a prospective outside centre

After some time playing there in the pre-season, Tahu was selected on the wing by McKenzie at the start of the competition before being ruled out by hamstring problems.

Tahu came on off the bench against the Waratahs draw against the Stormers in Cape Town and in that match he played in both postions.

The Reds believe that Tahu might not start at 13 but they believe he will certainly play there at some point.

Mooney also expects to see Lote Tuqiri move back to the wing from full-back and said that it was a big ask for Tahu and promised the Reds would test him out as a potential weak link in defence.

‘I think he brings a lot of strengths there but he also brings some potential areas to exploit as well,” Mooney told AAP.

‘We have a high amount of respect for him but there’s got be some areas we can test him on.

‘We’ve been reasonably success exploiting some different areas (in the backline) so we’ve got some good options there.”

Picking Tahu at outside centre adds an extra dimension to the clash for the in-form Morgan Turinui who left NSW for the Reds when McKenzie signed up the Parramatta three-quarter.

‘That’s a team he (Turinui) played all his junior and senior football for and I’m sure there’s a little bit extra motivation for him there,” said Mooney”

‘He’s been very good for the last period of time so that (NSW’s decision) has been good for us.”

Turinui admitted his motivation was to score a win for his new team the Reds rather than knocking his old side out of the play-offs.

For a change, he’s looking forward to Friday’s annual Vintage Reds luncheon, which the Waratahs will snub, and listening to “the ex-Queenslanders throw their barbs” at NSW.

The Reds have named veteran Australia half-back Sam Cordingley for his swansong after winning his fitness battle with a lingering calf muscle

‘It’s justice he gets one last crack,” Mooney said of Cordingley whose injury has seen him slip in Test reckoning.

France-bound Cordingley will join the retiring David Croft, Brumbies-bound Stephen Moore in playing their last games for the Reds. Rodney Blake, Clinton Schifcofske and possibly Turinui may also be heading overseas.

Blake is back on the bench from suspension with winger Caleb Brown who replaces suspended Digby Ioane.

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