The lead-up to Saturday’s Super Rugby clash between Queensland and Japan’s Sunwolves has been all about Ayumu Goromaru.
But there ares two other blokes – one very familiar, one slightly less so – who the Reds will need to watch extremely closely if they are to do as the bookies expect and leave Suncorp Stadium with their third win of the season.
The first is the ‘ginger ninja’ himself, Ed Quirk.
The former Reds’ flanker, like Goromaru, is set to take on his former teammates for the first time.
Quirk played 39 games for the Reds between his debut under Ewen McKenzie in 2010 and the end of last year, when he left Ballymore to take on a brand new rugby challenge.
The 24-year-old has proved a hit in Japan, playing every game so far for the Sunwolves and becoming one of their key threats at the breakdown.
“It’ll be interesting playing against Quirky – it’ll be the first time I’ve played against him, but we all know what he brings,” Queensland hooker Andrew Ready said.
“He’s hard, physical, aggressive.
“We’re just looking to play our own game and let him do what he has to do.”
The other dangerman for the Sunwolves is Japan’s Test winger Akihito Yamada, who spent last season in Australia with the Western Force, but never played a game.
This season, he’s emerged as the franchise’s most-explosive attacking outlet, crossing eight times to make him Super Rugby’s leading tryscorer after 12 rounds.
“I think the Australian fans will really enjoy watching how quickly Yamada moves,” Goromaru said, with the help of an interpreter.
“The numbers are on the board. He’s the highest try-scorer in Super Rugby at the moment so I’m sure he’ll put on a show this weekend.”
As for Goromaru, after making only sporadic appearances for the Reds throughout the season to date, he’s keen to show fans precisely what he can do.
“The mark of a player is he plays the cards he’s given,” Goromaru said.
“I do the best with the time I get on the field – that’s the way I’ve approached it from day one.”
Goromaru is one of two Japanese players in Queensland’s starting side, along with bullocking back-rower Hendrik Tui.
The Reds are hopeful of attracting their biggest crowd of the season for the Saturday afternoon clash.