Vodacom Super Rugby
Injury crisis for Reds
Sydney - Reds coach Ewen McKenzie will be forced to look to local club rugby to bolster his playoffs-bound squad after they suffered more injuries to their backs in their 24-21 win over the Western Force in Perth on Saturday.
The victory ensured the Reds will finish in the top-two of the southern hemisphere competition and be granted a bye in the first week of the playoffs, which begin after next week's final round of matches.
McKenzie, who was forced to draft in a number of players from the Reds' academy, lost Luke Morahan (hamstring) and Rod Davies (shoulder) in their clash with the Force with the pair likely to join fellow backs Ben Lucas (knee) Digby Ioane (concussion) and Anthony Faingaa (hamstring) on the sidelines.
"We're into finding replacements again so that will give us something to do next week," McKenzie told Australian Associated Press in Perth. "We'll wait and see what the story is with Digby. That will be a complete medical process there.
"He might or might not be available (for Saturday's match against the Waikato Chiefs).
"Otherwise, we'll just go to the well again and we'll find a solution locally."
McKenzie was forced to seek an exemption from the Australian Rugby Union to call openside flanker Liam Gill back from the world under-20 championship in Italy to play the rest of the season after Beau Robinson suffered an elbow injury.
Academy player Jono Lance was also selected for his Super rugby debut against the Force, while McKenzie had rushed Davies back from a knee injury for the clash.
The Reds top the table on 62 points with only the Stormers (58) capable of surpassing them, though that would require a four-try victory against the Cheetahs and the Reds not achieving any competition points against the Chiefs.
The third-placed Crusaders (57) could finish on 62 points with a bonus-point win against the Hurricanes but have not won as many games as the Australian side.
Despite that, McKenzie said his side would not be resting on their laurels ahead of the Chiefs game.
"We've got some work to do. It's no time to sit around patting yourself on the back. You've just got to get on with it," he added.
"No doubt we'll be finding some players and getting them incorporated, so that will be part of the process.
"If we can get in the right territory (by finishing top), ideally you get a week off.
"That would allow a couple of our players that are injured maybe time to come back.
"That would be nice."