Reds to unleash 'hit man' on Sunwolves
HUNTER Paisami is the Reds' own "Chiropractor", but the sooner he sets his body-rattling sights on the opposition, rather than his own teammates, the better.
The newest member of the Queensland backline is one of those full-on types who rips into every training session like it's a Test match.
Unfortunately, it was an innocuous shoulder-on-shoulder contact at training in Buenos Aires last week that left Wallabies centre Jordan Petaia with a dislocation that requires surgery.
Flanker Fraser McReight will energise the Reds on Saturday night as a super-sub against Japan's Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium.
He's finally fit again after straining hand ligaments when tackled into the turf under Paisami at training.
"The Chiropractor" was the nickname of Samoan legend Brian Lima for his shuddering hits during a career that spanned five World Cups.
Paisami, 21, shares the same Samoan heritage and zest for direct running.
His 13 charges for 106m in just 65 minutes against the Jaguares last weekend make him an eye-catching asset to replace Petaia at outside centre for the season.
"What guys like (former Bronco) Shane Webcke and the Franks brothers (at the All Blacks) had was going just as hard at training as in games," Reds coach Brad Thorn said.
"Hunter is one of those types. Sometimes there is collateral damage but it's part of what makes him a great package for us."
The Reds must win against the Sunwolves to turn around a 0-3 start.
They've scored nine tries, often bulldozed at scrum time and led in the second half of all three but that means little without the nous to squeeze and pressure when in front.
"A couple of years ago we were going out there to survive but I definitely feel we've now got the firepower to win games," Thorn said.
Thorn also has enough depth to make strategic calls, which is his explanation for playing Isaac Lucas at flyhalf in the opening game and using him off the bench behind old head James O'Connor for the next two.
"Part of it is just depressurising Isaac because he's an outstanding talent and he'll continue to get game time and starting opportunities as things go on," Thorn said.
"Having a 29-year-old there in James for some tough away games (in Johannesburg and Buenos Aires) was a good thing and he's doing really well at No. 10."
Thorn may have his private thoughts on the dodgy refereeing calls blighting Super Rugby but he's stronger still on them not being a crutch.
"Like Wayne Bennett says 'excuses are for losers', so getting our game right is what matters to get the results we're looking for," Thorn said.
Being smart enough not to get sucked into playing the Sunwolves at their own Barbarians-style running game will be the first sign of the Reds' maturing tonight.
Sunwolves skipper Jake Schatz, a proud seven-season Red (2010-16), and lock Michael Stolberg are both former Easts forwards with plenty to prove for the visitors
REDS v SUNWOLVES
Suncorp Stadium, 6.15pm Saturday
Referee: Nic Berry (Aust)
REDS: Jock Campbell, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Henry Speight, James O'Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright (c), Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Alex Mafi, JP Smith. Reserves: Ed Craig, Harry Hoopert, Josh Nasser, Harry Hockings, Fraser McReight, Scott Malolua, Isaac Lucas, Bryce Hegarty
SUNWOLVES: Jordan Jackson-Hope, James Dargaville, JJ Engelbrecht, Ben Te'o, Siosaia Fifita, Garth April, Naoto Saito, Jake Schatz (c), Mitch Jacobson, Kyo Yoshida, Michael Stolberg, Corey Thomas, Conraad van Vuuren, Jaba Bregvadze, Chris Eves. Reserves: Effie Ma'afu, Nic Mayhew, Hencus van Wyk, Kotaro Yatabe, Tevita Tupou, Rudy Paige, Keisuke Moriya, Shogo Nakano
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