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Reds axe Vunivalu, bench O'Connor for Brumbies

By AAP
(Photo by Daniel Pockett/Getty Images)

James O’Connor has been benched by the Queensland Reds in favour of third-choice playmaker Lawson Creighton, while Suliasi Vunivalu has been axed from the side to face the ACT Brumbies.

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The pair paid the price for their off-colour showings in last Friday’s loss to the Crusaders, with Vunivalu’s demotion coming in the same week he was included in Eddie Jones’ first Wallabies training squad.

With 19-year-old five-eighth Tom Lynagh still exhibiting concussion symptoms, Reds coach Brad Thorn has called up Creighton for the first time this season to take on the Brumbies on Friday night.

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O’Connor was replaced as first-choice kicker by Isaac Henry last week and was poor generally off the boot against the Crusaders, while Vunivalu laboured in a display that appeared lacking in confidence after a spate of hamstring injuries.

The Reds are 2-4 while the Brumbies (5-1) are third overall and the best-placed Australian outfit.

Meanwhile, second-rowers Angus Blyth and Seru Uru have both signed two-year extensions with the Reds, following Lynagh’s commitment to the club until 2025 earlier in the week.

QUEENSLAND REDS: Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Phransis Sula-Siaosi, Angus Blyth, Seru Uru, Liam Wright (cc), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (cc), Lawson Creighton, Filipo Daugunu, Isaac Henry, Josh Flook, Jordan Petaia, Jock Campbell. BENCH: Richie Asiata, Dane Zander, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Jake Upfield, Kalani Thomas, James O’Connor, Taj Annan.

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