Injury toll mounts as Reds look to continue unbeaten start to 2022
The Queensland Reds face a tricky month navigating key injuries, with Lukhan Salakaia-Loto the latest to join the list.
The lock played just four minutes in his captaincy debut against the Western Force on Friday before limping off with an ankle injury.
Scans are still to be received but it’s expected he’ll miss at least four weeks with a high ankle sprain.
It’s the same injury that sidelined Tate McDermott – the man Salakaia-Loto replaced as captain – a week ago.
The Reds are also without backrower Angus Scott-Young (knee), while there is no clear timeline on the return of first-choice hooker Alex Mafi (neck) and flying winger Suliasi Vunivalu (hamstring) is still several weeks away from his latest comeback.
Fellow co-captian Liam Wright (shoulder) will press for a return against Fijian Drua on Saturday, while Taniela Tupou (back) and Hunter Paisami (knee) enjoyed impressive returns in their fine win in Perth.
The Reds are unbeaten after three games despite their injury concerns, rookie hooker Matt Faessler the latest to debut with distinction in an impressive late-game cameo against the Force.
The Drua will pose another test though, particularly on a dry Suncorp Stadium track, after notching their first win against the Rebels last weekend.
And the Reds will be tested twice by the Brumbies in the three weeks that follow Saturday’s clash, as well as a home game against the improving NSW Waratahs.
A date in Melbourne with the Hurricanes as part of Super Round on April 23 kicks off proceedings against the New Zealand sides, when at least Brad Thorn’s men could benefit from their early season injuries by presenting with a degree of freshness.
Thorn has been impressed by his side’s ability to defy adversity though, a torrid 14-hour travel day that followed a week battling Brisbane’s floods not enough to throw them off their game against the Force.
“They didn’t even blink an eye,” he said.
“Alex Mafi’s car was underwater at the ground … last week against the Tahs, Taniela (Tupou hurt his back) in the warm up, didn’t even blink.
“And they did their business again in Perth; it was cool to be part of it.”
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