HUNGER NEEDED: Queensland coach Nick Stiles is looking to make the most of the Reds' last three Super Rugby games.
HUNGER NEEDED: Queensland coach Nick Stiles is looking to make the most of the Reds' last three Super Rugby games. DAN PELED

Stiles looks to another league convert

THE selection shake-up forced by the Reds' latest shocker will create a back-row debut for former Brisbane Bronco Caleb Timu in Samoa on Friday.

Reds coach Nick Stiles promised changes in the mood of disgust and dismay that swamped Suncorp Stadium last Friday night after the 40-26 slide against the Western Force.

What made the loss even harder to stomach was the fact the Reds were at top strength but for injured skipper James Slipper and Australian Under-20s winger Izaia Perese.

The season is gone but Stiles does not intend to waste the final three games as his players did when leading 26-23 with 20 minutes to play last Friday.

"We've got some good young guys coming through and, 100%," Stiles said.

"We'll use the last three games to push them and give them more minutes.

"We've got to get this group hungry so they are ruthless about their preparation all week and at game-time because we are just not there at the moment."

Stiles said there was still plenty to play for, starting with Friday's clash against the Blues when they can become the first Aussie side to beat a Kiwi combination this season.

"Do the players want that poor, patchy performance against the Force to be the reflection of their season or do they want it to be a big showing against the Blues?" Stiles said.

Timu will likely earn his chance from the bench.

Andrew Ready or Alex Mafi will start at hooker with Wallabies skipper Stephen Moore given the game off as part of shrewd workload management for the 15-season veteran.

Halfback James Tuttle is sure to replace Nick Frisby in the starting side, Lachie Maranta should bump out one of the Reds' disappointing wingers and prop Taniela Tupou may be thrown a start ahead of Sam Talakai.

Young lock Izack Rodda and flanker Adam Korczyk are also in line for more minutes.

Timu, 23, has quietly built his rugby knowledge and confidence with strong efforts at No.8 and blindside flanker for his club Souths since his mid-March comeback.

It's 13 months since his knee construction after tearing ligaments at Reds training.

"Caleb is definitely ready for Super Rugby. He's been a shining light with his big ball-carries, positive nature and a few of his league-style offloads," Souths coach Elia Tuqiri said.

The Reds have settled into steamy Apia where they will become the first Queensland side to play Super Rugby since Rod McCall's 1993 side lost to Samoa.

Relatives of Tupou last night threw the young powerhouse a 21st birthday bash for his milestone on May 13 with a pig prepared in a traditional umu (cooking pit) for the squad.

Winning so well in Buenos Aires on Sunday showed that the conference-leading Brumbies (28 points) have an attitude for the big occasion that the lame Reds (16) do not.

Only the NSW Waratahs (19) can now prevent the Brumbies grabbing Australia's play-off spot for the finals and they must beat the Chiefs, the Jaguares and the Force to have a chance.

News Corp Australia


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