White accuses Reds of mind games
Brumbies coach Jake White has accused the Queensland Reds of a ruse by ruling Wallabies skipper James Horwill out of Saturday night's Super Rugby opener.
The Reds on Tuesday morning announced Horwill would not recover from an ankle injury in time to make his long-awaited comeback from hamstring surgery at Canberra Stadium.
But White dismissed the Test lock's early withdrawal as "mind-games", and predicted Queensland would be near full strength with Anthony Faingaa to also overcome a hand injury.
"They'll play, they'll all be in," the 2007 World Cup-winning South African coach said.
"Last year they said that Quade Cooper got injured in the hotel and wasn't going to run out and then he ended up playing the whole game (won 13-12 by the Reds in Canberra).
"At the end of the day it's all mind games now - that's the way the Reds operate.
"They come up with `this guy's not available, that guy could play, this guy is sick'.
"It's irrelevant. At the end of the day we have to focus on what we want to get right and that's a win in Canberra on Saturday."
It's the second year running that White has doubted Reds' selections before Rod Macqueen Cup games.
Last year, he was adamant young five-eighth Sam Lane would not play at Suncorp Stadium, nor would Aidan Toua line up at outside centre, but both played influential roles in a 20-13 Reds victory.
He has already shown his intentions to build "hype" around the Brumbies this season by revealing on Monday that Clyde Rathbone would make his fairytale return from retirement on Saturday night in a bid to attract a 20,000-plus crowd.
With Horwill now expected to play his first game in nine months against the NSW Waratahs in round two, Wallabies prop James Slipper has been announced as the Reds' new captain.
Queensland mentor Ewen McKenzie admitted his 200cm second-rower was close to full fitness but did not want to take any risks with his return to action.
"As we've done all off-season we've taken a cautious approach with James and his rehab and on this occasion we all agreed it would be best to give him another week on the sideline," he said.
"But as we said last week, his ankle is only a minor setback, and we fully expect him to be healthy when we play our first game of the year at Suncorp Stadium next week."
Adam Wallace-Harrison is now set to team with Rob Simmons in the Queensland second-row against the Brumbies, who missed last year's play-offs by a bonus point.
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