Rob Simmons will miss the first match of Queensland’s two-week Super Rugby tour of South Africa due to injury.
Simmons went down with what initially looked a serious shoulder injury in the Reds’ shock win over the Highlanders last weekend – their first of the season.
Scans later cleared him of serious damage, but the Wallaby lock has been rested for Sunday morning’s (AEST) clash against the Bulls in Pretoria.
It’s expected he will be back in time for next week’s meeting with the Stormers.
Simmons will be replaced by Ben Matwijow, who stands to make his first ever Super Rugby start at Loftus Versfeld.
“It’s disappointing not to have the experience of Rob there this weekend, but we thought it was best to give his shoulder another week to heal,” interim co-coach Nick Stiles said.
“Ben has been making a solid impact off the bench and we know he can do a job for us.”
The only other changes the Reds have made are on the bench, where uncapped lock Lukhan Tui takes Matiwijow’s reserve spot and halfback James Tuttle comes in for Scott Gale (hand).
Stiles believes the Reds can carry their momentum from last week’s boilover against the Highlanders.
“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,” he said.
Meanwhile, the positive diagnosis on Simmons’ injury appears to have all but closed the door for good on Brad Thorn’s storied playing career.
Thorn, who has been promoted to a senior assistant coaching role at the Reds, admitted he had started “warming up” when Simmons went down.
“I got my mouthguard, I keep a pair of boots in the car,” the 41-year-old said.
“(But) you don’t want to be putting some has-been in there to block opportunities for other guys.
“At the moment I’m still sitting on the sidelines, eating a meat pie and enjoying the game.”
As ever with Thorn, when it comes to playing again, there’s a caveat.
“If it was a crazy situation, then you could fill a spot I guess,” he said.
Queensland Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, Anthony Fainga’a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Jake Schatz, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Ben Matwijow, Cadeyrn Neville, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (c). Reserves: Saia Fainga’a, Sef Fa’agase, Sam Talakai, Lukhan Tui, Curtis Browning, James Tuttle, Sam Greene, Ayumu Goromaru.