Rugby-Injuries piling up at Reds before Crusaders test

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Autumn International - Wales v Australia - Principality Stadium, Cardiff, Wales, Britain - November 20, 2021 Australia's Tate McDermott in action REUTERS/Rebecca Naden/

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Injuries are piling up for the Queensland Reds at the worst possible time as they prepare for arguably the biggest test in Super Rugby against a rampaging Canterbury Crusaders side in Christchurch.

Having lost flyhalf James O'Connor to a hamstring strain on Monday, centre Josh Flook will join him on the sidelines after dislocating a shoulder in the home win over bottom-placed Moana Pasifika last Friday.

Reds captain Tate McDermott said on Tuesday that Flook would need surgery, cutting short a breakout season for the midfielder.

Brad Thorn's Reds have already lost explosive prop Taniela Tupou (calf) and his Wallabies team mate Hunter Paisami (shoulder) in a season that has gone into a tailspin over the past month.

"There's a long list of them. It's really frustrating for those guys. Hopefully we get a couple back for the finals," said scrumhalf McDermott.

The Reds have sewn up a place in the top eight teams that start the playoffs next week but defeat by the second-placed Crusaders on Friday would likely mean heading back to Christchurch to meet them again in a knockout quarter-final.

In one bright spot, co-captain and loose forward Liam Wright has returned to training after a long layoff due to shoulder and ankle injuries and could slot in against the Crusaders.

Injuries aside, the Reds' discipline has been a huge problem, and their 13 yellow cards leads the competition.

The machine-like Crusaders, who have incurred only four yellow cards, will dominate on Friday if the Reds fail to match them at the breakdown, McDermott warned.

"It's going to be a big ask coming up against the Crusaders. They’ve got some pretty big bodies and good ball-carriers as well," said McDermott.

"We can't afford ... to go quiet and stop working for each other."

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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