The return of Wallabies great George Smith has lifted a Queensland back row reeling from the news that Lukhan Tui will need knee surgery.
Smith, 37, is poised to make his return from late 2017 back surgery after being named on the bench for Saturday night’s Super Rugby clash with New Zealand’s Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium.
Reds flanker Angus Scott-Young said Smith’s presence had boosted the back row after being told Tui faced a lengthy sideline stint.
Scott-Young will replace Tui at blindside flanker in a back-row reshuffle, earning his first start since round six.
“He brings so much experience,” Scott-Young said of Smith.
“There’s a lot of youth in the team so, hopefully, having a guy like that can help steer the ship a bit.
“Hopefully, he gets out there and shows us what he is made of.”
Reds coach Brad Thorn relished the chance to pick 111-Test veteran openside flanker Smith.
“It’s great to see the old master return,” said Thorn.
Straight talking Scott-Young – son of Wallabies enforcer Sam Scott-Young – admitted the Reds’ much-maligned attack did “switch off” late in games.
But he dodged any suggestion Thorn should consider recalling exiled former Wallaby playmaker Quade Cooper despite their misfiring attack.
“That’s up to the coach,” he said.
“In the back half of the game, we are switching off in attack. Our attack game plan is not complex but, if we do it well, it should produce tries.
“There’s been a lot of dropped ball as well. If we rectify those issues, we will be scoring more tries.”
Facing their first Kiwi opposition of the season, the Reds have also been boosted by the injury return of blockbusting prop Taniela Tupou and halfback Ben Lucas, both restored to the starting team.
With a 3-4 record after a comprehensive 37-16 loss to the NSW Waratahs, the Reds need a win to stay in touch with the Waratahs and Brumbies in the Australian conference. But they are likely to find it hard against an exciting Chiefs team with a 5-2 record.
“I think the next two games will be a big moment in our season,” Scott-Young said.
“The Chiefs and Lions are both tough opposition. If we go well against them, it bodes well for our season.”