Cape Town - Reds captain James Slipper will return home from the team’s tour of South Africa and Argentina immediately, after suffering a ruptured Achilles in his side’s loss to the Lions in Johannesburg on Saturday.
He will be replaced on the tour by prop Phil Kite, who
trained with the squad throughout the pre-season.
Reds head coach Nick Stiles admitted that Slipper's injury
is a big setback for the 2011 champions.
"It’s obviously really disappointing for James to suffer such a serious injury this early in the season," he said.
"We’ll miss his contributions on the field, but knowing
the sort of bloke he is, he’ll still be heavily involved from the sidelines.
"We’re fortunate that we’ve got Stephen Moore in the
side, who is the current Wallabies skipper. He will take over the captaincy in
The injury almost certainly rules Slipper out of all Super
Rugby in 2017 and the vast majority of this year's Wallabies schedule of Tests.
Meanwhile Stiles won't "sugarcoat" the 44-14 loss
to the Lions but he will demand a better performance from his team.
That's the message from the Reds coach after they slumped to
a 1-3 record to start the 2017 Super Rugby season.
"Neither of us will sugarcoat that loss at all but when
you’re playing the Lions with 14 men in the second half, the guys that came on,
the young kids, put their hand up and had a crack," he told the Australian
Rugby Union's official website.
"That’s good for us long term, definitely, but we need
to get better in the short term as well."
The reality of the Reds letting a pair of wins slide against
the Force and Crusaders is now being fully realised, as they face another tough
road test against the Jaguares in Argentina next week before returning home to
host the Hurricanes.
"This competition is that tough that when you’ve got an
opportunity to win a game you have to win it," said Stiles.
"(Against the) Crusaders, we were terribly unlucky not
to win that.
"It changes your season this early to have those couple
wins in the bank."
An acid test fortnight awaits the reeling Reds, who will
almost certainly be without Quade Cooper due to suspension and captain James
Slipper if a snapped achilles is confirmed by scans tomorrow.
When asked about Cooper's red card for a high shot on Rohan
Janse van Rensburg, Stiles did not have any major qualms.
"Everyone is having trouble with it but the reality is
Quade went high," he said.
"He hit the shoulder, bounced up, had intent and the
way they are refereeing it, it’s a red card.
"Referees, it’s difficult for them, it’s tough but
that’s how it is."
Lachlan Maranta, the former Brisbane Bronco, flew out to join the Reds on Sunday night as cover for Cooper who team officials are expecting to cop at least some sort of suspension for his high shot on van Rensburg.