Reds grant towering giant a farewell game
DEPARTING stalwart Rob Simmons is a shock selection at flanker by the Queensland Reds for his farewell to Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Reds coach Nick Stiles said he had always planned to select the 71-Test Wallaby in the 23-man match squad for the clash against the Brumbies.
Injuries and absences have forced a remodelling of the Reds pack and this worthy chance for the regular lock to go out as a starter in an unfamiliar role.
Recalled 2015 World Cup Wallaby Kane Douglas and youngster Izack Rodda will lock the scrum with Simmons (pictured) as a towering 115kg blindside flanker.
The Reds made the tough call last month to part ways with their pillar of nine seasons to usher in a generational shake-up of lock stocks with young guns Rodda, Lukhan Tui, Angus Blyth and Harry Hockings beside Douglas.
"I was always going to include Simmo in this match squad because I thought it really important to acknowledge his contribution over a long period," Stiles said.
"He will get this chance in front of family and friends and the fans he has played for over nine seasons."
Rookie Wallaby squad lock Lukhan Tui underwent minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee last week.
Regular No. 8 Scott Higginbotham (neck) is resting an issue stirred up during the June Tests and regular flanker Hendrik Tui (ribs and shoulder) is banged up from Japanese Test duty.
Back-up backrower Leroy Houston, with a disc problem in his back, has been absent from training since being granted a release from the Reds last month.
The backrow disruptions mean young Adam Korczyk will play at No. 8 with Simmons and George Smith as flankers.
Top ball-running weapon Samu Kerevi has made a positive return to drills after an ankle injury but will not be risked in the centres.
Hooker Stephen Moore will captain the side and ginger giant Campbell Magnay will slot in at outside centre.
Simmons, 28, said he was comfortable with the demands of No. 6, a position he has started in just once at Test level against Italy in Turin in 2013.
"I've played the position maybe three times in my career and that Test was good fun with Scott Fardy helping me all week," Simmons said.
"Fards was out with a head knock so I was a fill-in who learnt a lot and now I get to play against him with the Brumbies."
Simmons said his future was still a mystery but his motivation to play again for the Wallabies was as strong as ever.
"What comes next (with a club) is a bit unknown but I'm still motivated to get back into a gold jersey," Simmons said.
"There's interest from everywhere basically but there are a lot of unknowns out there (with one Super Rugby club to be chopped).
"They need to make a few decisions so other people can make a few decisions."
Simmons has had a month to grapple with the pain of being cut from the Reds when he wanted to continue his 112-game career.
"It hurt. It wasn't great and you don't really assume anything when you are off-contract because anything can happen," Simmons said.