Reds in crisis with four flyers grounded
A SEASON-ending knee injury for Jack Hardy has spun the Queensland Reds into a wing crisis with four finishers now grounded.
Scans are expected to confirm a torn anterior cruciate ligament in the youngster's right knee just as he was embracing the busiest and most exciting period of his year.
His five-game launch with the Reds is over as is the frontline role he was to play for the Junior Wallabies in the Oceania Under-20s Championship on the Gold Coast from Friday.
Hardy, 20, joins an injury roll call of wingers that now includes Jordan Petaia (knee), Filipo Daugunu (broken forearm) and rookie squad member Will Eadie (knee).
The Reds do have extra time with a bye week to groom a partner for Wallaby Sefa Naivalu, their only top-tier winger for Friday week's clash against the Sunwolves at Suncorp Stadium.
Recommissioned fullback Aidan Toua and Jock Campbell, a club standout with University, will be fill-in options until Daugunu's expected return next month.
For Reds physiotherapist Cameron Lillicrap, the Hardy injury at Durban's Kings Park had an eerie sense of deja vu.
That patch of turf is something of a Bermuda Triangle when it comes to Queensland backs and knees.
Lillicrap was a prop in the 1994 Queensland side which won a memorable Super 10 final 21-10 over hosts Natal on the same field.
It was the match where Wallabies centres and best mates Tim Horan and Jason Little both sustained serious knee injuries.
"To be there in '94 and see Jack go down no more than 20m from where Tim and Jason did their knees was a strange feeling," Lillicrap said.
The Reds arrived home on Sunday night from Durban, tired, sore and with a winning glow and looking forward to a few days off.
Wallabies prop Taniela Tupou indicated he would still like to back up in club rugby for Brothers against Sunnybank on Saturday to keep in the rhythm of playing matches.
The Junior Wallabies will play Japan on Friday night (7pm) at Bond University after the New Zealand-Fiji opener (5pm).
Coach Jason Gilmore is still weighing up whether Reds livewire Isaac Lucas will play at flyhalf or fullback against the Japanese.
* Former Wallabies Scott Fardy (Leinster) and Will Skelton (Saracens) have won their way into a European Champions Cup final in Newcastle in England on May 11.
* Former Reds backrower Jake Schatz has helped London Irish win promotion to the English Premiership with a 46-7 win over Richmond last weekend.
Oceania U20s Championship, Bond University, Gold Coast
Round 1 - Friday
New Zealand v Fiji, 5.00pm
Australia v Japan, 7.00pm
Round 2 - Tuesday, April 30
New Zealand v Japan, 5.00pm
Australia v Fiji, 7.00pm
Round 3 - Saturday, May 4
Japan v Fiji, 5.00pm
New Zealand v Australia, 7.00pm