Knee injury to ground Reds centre Hunter Paisami, who was a casualty in the narrow loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Knee injury to ground Reds centre Hunter Paisami, who was a casualty in the narrow loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch. Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

Hunter Paisami knee injury blow

REDS discovery Hunter Paisami has been grounded for a least a month with a knee injury that will stretch Queensland's centre resources to the limit.

The only upside to the deflating fallout to the Reds' 24-20 loss to the Crusaders in Christchurch last Friday night is that it creates a way to address the team's debilitating kicking woes.

The Reds are the only Super Rugby team in Australia which can call on a former Wallaby as their third choice outside centre because Chris Feauai-Sautia will relish a switch to his favourite position.

The Reds are already without breakout World Cup centre Jordan Petaia, who recently underwent major shoulder surgery.

Feauai-Sautia is certain to make the shift from the wing to centre for Saturday night's must-win clash at Suncorp Stadium against the Pretoria-based Bulls.

It will give the Reds the chance to reintroduce a proven goalkicker, Bryce Hegarty, at fullback because Jock Campbell can shift to the wing.

The Kiwi-born Paisami suffered medial ligament damage to his right knee when twisted awkwardly in a tackle midway through the first half in Christchurch.

Reds centre Hunter Paisami eludes Crusaders winger Leicester Faingaanuku during last Friday’s clash in Christchurch. AAP Image/Photosport NZ: John Davidson
Reds centre Hunter Paisami eludes Crusaders winger Leicester Faingaanuku during last Friday’s clash in Christchurch. AAP Image/Photosport NZ: John Davidson

He played on for a further 20 minutes and still made a typically explosive 30m run that would have ended up in a try if he'd been able to link with Isaac Lucas on his inside.

Paisami limped into Brisbane Airport on Saturday with his right knee in a brace.

Reds coach Brad Thorn came through customs pushing three large boxes of team equipment but that's not the only baggage he arrived home with.

The Reds played some superb rugby but butchered their shot at upsetting the Crusaders with diabolical goalkicking.

This is an issue Thorn must take responsibility for.

Campbell is only a part-time goalkicker for his club University of Queensland but Thorn handed him the frontline role at the Reds for the past four games on the basis of good training form at empty Ballymore without the pressure of a single fan in the stands.

Standout No.8 Harry Wilson charges into the Crusaders’ defence at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. Photo: Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images
Standout No.8 Harry Wilson charges into the Crusaders’ defence at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. Photo: Teaukura Moetaua/Getty Images

His poor 12-from-21 effort from the tee converts to a 57 per cent success rate when Super Rugby's elite goalkickers like Curwin Bosch (Sharks) and Domingo Miotti (Jaguares) are 85 per cent operators.

Campbell hooked two conversion attempts in Christchurch, halfback Scott Malolua got no closer with his single effort and replacement Hegarty missed his wide shot in the final 10 minutes.

Hegarty was the competition's only 100 per cent goalkicker (nine-from-nine) in 2020 when he was demoted to the bench four games ago so there is a lesson in there about always finding a spot for your best goalkicker.

Reds winger Henry Speight scores a try against the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. AAP Image/Photosport NZ: John Davidson
Reds winger Henry Speight scores a try against the Crusaders at Orangetheory Stadium in Christchurch. AAP Image/Photosport NZ: John Davidson

Thorn processed the cost of zero-from-four goalkicking in Christchurch where a gale did make any kick a challenge.

"We knock over our conversions and it's a different result which is a big frustration because we've now gone to Christchurch, Hamilton, Dunedin and Wellington (in 2018-20) and competed hard all the way without the win we want," Thorn said.

One big upside was how well lock Lukhan Salakaia-Loto played with more ball-running chances to skittle defenders.



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