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Goromaru dumped by Reds

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 4/05/2016 By Vince Rugari

Queensland Reds interim co-coach Matt O'Connor insists recruiting Ayumu Goromaru was not a mistake, despite dumping the Japanese Test fullback from their squad.

Goromaru, a sensation for the Brave Blossoms at last year's World Cup, has been an off-field coup for the Reds, who have sold memberships, merchandise and even signed sponsors based on his huge popularity in Japan.

But the 30-year-old has struggled to settle at Ballymore, with a variety of factors - the language barrier, his lack of attacking threat and Karmichael Hunt's strong form - restricting him to just 163 minutes of rugby to date this season.

Nor has he delivered with his goalkicking - despite a razor-sharp reputation with the boot, Goromaru has converted just three of his seven penalty attempts.

So there was perhaps an inevitability about his axing from Queensland's match-day 23 for Friday night's daunting clash with the Crusaders, even though a backline spot has opened up due to Samu Kerevi's broken hand.

Instead, the Reds' coaching staff have opted for rookie winger Junior Laloifi on the bench, with highly-rated teenage prospect Campbell Magnay coming in for Kerevi and Chris Feauai-Sautia back from an ankle injury to start out wide.

Asked if Goromaru's signing was going to plan for the Reds, O'Connor said: "That depends what the plan was.

"I wouldn't say it was a mistake. It was about making sure that we had a quality goalkicker in the squad, given the losses of Quade (Cooper) and James O'Connor last year.

"You need guys to kick goals and thankfully Jake (McIntyre) has stepped up and done that for us.

"He's disappointed, obviously. But he understands it's a team-first mentality and we've got to pick the best 23 guys for this weekend."

Magnay, 19, was to play for Australia under-20s against New Zealand this week until his Reds call-up.

Queensland Reds: Karmichael Hunt, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Campbell Magnay, Anthony Fainga'a, Eto Nabuli, Jake McIntyre, Nick Frisby, Curtis Browning, Liam Gill, Hendrik Tui, Rob Simmons, Ben Matwijow, Greg Holmes, Andrew Ready, James Slipper (c). Reserves: Saia Fainga'a, Sef Fa'agase, Sam Talakai, Cadeyrn Neville, Michael Gunn, James Tuttle, Sam Greene, Junior Laloifi.

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