James O’Connor has been named to make his return from injury for the Queensland Reds this weekend.
O’Connor and former Wallabies skipper James Horwill are the two big-name inclusions for Queensland’s meeting with the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday morning (AEST).
A minor calf issue kept O’Connor out of last weekend’s gallant loss to the Bulls but the 24-year-old says he is finally over a wretched run with injury that has plagued his integration into the team.
“That’s the word – frustrating,” he said.
“It’s been in one week, out one week.
“It’s been quite annoying to be able to get 80 minutes consistently across the board.
“But I’m feeling good, I’ve put a lot of hard work in this week with rehabilitation and I’m back on the field training, running to my top speed.
“I’m good to go.”
O’Connor has been named on the wing and will take back the goalkicking duties from Lachie Turner, who struggled to find his range at altitude against the Bulls.
Horwill was suspended for one match from the previous round but only finds himself back amongst his teammates because of an injury to fellow lock Dave McDuling.
Had McDuling not taken a hit to his knee in Pretoria, Horwill would still be back in Brisbane on a coach-imposed exile.
The Reds have also lost Saia Fainga’a and Ben Tapuai to injury, with James Hanson called up to replace the former at hooker and Chris Feauai-Sautia moved to the centres for the latter.
Coach Richard Graham said he was excited to see what Feauai-Sautia’s combination with the bustling Samu Kerevi can produce.
“We wanted to give Samu and Chris an opportunity to play together again in the centres,” he said.
“They have a specific job this weekend in the context of the teams game plan.
“Both are big men and should generate momentum when they have the ball.”
Queensland has lost their last six games and sunk to bottom of the overall Super Rugby ladder after the Bulls defeat.
Queensland Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Lachie Turner, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Samu Kerevi, James O’Connor, Nick Frisby, Will Genia, Adam Thomson, Liam Gill, Curtis Browning, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Greg Holmes, James Hanson, James Slipper (c). Res: Andrew Ready, Ben Daley, Sam Talakai, Marco Kotze, Adam Korczyk, Anthony Fainga’a, Campbell Magnay, Chris Kuridrani.