A groin injury to Karmichael Hunt has handed Japanese Test sensation Ayumu Goromaru a rare starting opportunity for the Queensland Reds.
Goromaru will play at fullback for the Reds in their Super Rugby clash with the Hurricanes in Wellington on Saturday night, a week after he was dropped from their squad altogether.
The 30-year-old came to the Reds with a massive reputation following his exploits at last year’s World Cup but has struggled to make an impact and been unable to wrestle the No.15 jersey from Hunt’s grasp.
Hunt, whose strong form has rocketed him into possible Wallabies contention, is only expected to miss one week.
The Reds face Japanese expansion side the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium next weekend.
“Being able to bring a guy of Ayumu Goromaru’s experience straight into the starting side is a big benefit for us,” interim co-coach Nick Stiles said.
“This is a good opportunity for him to step up and demonstrate what we know he is capable of.”
The only other change the Reds have made to the squad that was thumped by the Crusaders last week has also been forced by injury.
Reserve hooker Saia Fainga’a underwent surgery on his foot this week and will miss almost two months of rugby, with Matt Mafi brought in as his replacement.
Vice-captain Rob Simmons will make his 100th appearance for the Reds at Westpac Stadium, making him the youngest forward in Queensland rugby history to do so at 27 years of age.
Queensland Reds: Ayumu Goromaru, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Campbell Magnay, Anthony Fainga’a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons, Ben Matwijow, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (c). Reserves: Matt Mafi, Sef Fa’agase, Sam Talakai, Cadeyrn Neville, Michael Gunn, James Tuttle, Duncan Paia’aua, Junior Laloifi.