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Injury crisis dampens Reds' delight at return of Ioane

Back from suspension ... Reds star Digby Ioane.

Back from suspension ... Reds star Digby Ioane. Photo: Anthony Johnson

AFTER weeks of juggling his attacking combinations, Reds coach Ewen McKenzie is delighted his Test winger Digby Ioane is back, but due to an injury crisis will still have to play him in a different position.

Ioane, unavailable for the past four matches due to a dangerous tackle suspension, will return for Friday night's game against the Blues in Auckland, but is expected to appear in the No.13 jersey rather than on the wing.

This is due to Reds midfielder Ben Tapuai breaking his collarbone during their loss to the Stormers in Brisbane on Friday night, which will sideline him for at least 10 weeks - including the Wallabies' mid-season Tests against Scotland and Wales.

While back-up second-rower Van Humphries will miss the Auckland match after losing strength in his right arm, Sam Lane's run at five-eighth is over after just two appearances - he requires a knee reconstruction due to major ligament damage.

Tapuai's absence opens the way for Ioane's appearance at outside centre. McKenzie said yesterday he ''would have a good look at'' selecting Ioane at No.13, ''because that way you keep your back three intact, and you're not having to change combinations''.

McKenzie doesn't have to be reminded his problem all season has been getting settled attacking combinations, especially with No.10 Quade Cooper sidelined all year, and Mike Harris and Ben Lucas only returning last weekend after more than a month on the sidelines with injury.

''Digby's return is good timing, but we still don't have any depth, particularly in the backs,'' McKenzie said yesterday. ''We've just got enough to play each week. We train with one back line and end up playing with another.''

Despite losing by 10 points, McKenzie was encouraged by how Lucas, who replaced the injured Lane at No.10, and inside-centre Harris performed against the Stormers. ''You have to remember that Ben and Mike haven't played for five weeks,'' he said. ''So I thought we adapted pretty well. When you bring blokes in like that without any real background, you suffer a bit with your combinations.

''Look at the Brumbies at the moment. They've going well, and they're getting by with the same guys each week. You can't beat combinations which develop over time.

''But I'm feeling confident the wheels are starting to turn our way.''

The Chiefs, meanwhile, enjoyed a record seventh straight win by defeating the Sharks 18-12 in Durban yesterday to consolidate their top spot.

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR vs AUS 01:30Twic
USA vs NZL 07:00Soldier Field
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs SAM 01:00Stadio Del Duca
ENG vs NZL 01:30Twic
WAL vs AUS 01:30MilS
FRA vs FJI 03:45Stade Velodrome
IRE vs RSA 04:30Lansdowne Road
SCO vs ARG 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs ARG 01:00Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris
ENG vs RSA 01:30Twic
WAL vs FJI 01:30MilS
SCO vs NZL 04:30Murrayfield Stadium
FRA vs AUS 07:00StdF
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE vs GEO 01:30Lansdowne Road
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA vs RSA 01:00Stadio Plebiscito
SCO vs TGA 01:30Rugby Park
IRE vs AUS 03:30Lansdowne Road
WAL vs NZL 04:30MilS
ENG vs SAM 06:00Twic
FRA vs ARG 07:00StdF
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
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