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Super Rugby teams: Reds name young gun for Tahs clash in front of Schmidt, Test halves to start against Wallaby-laden Brumbies

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9th February, 2024
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Les Kiss will get another big insight into who should wear the No.10 jersey in 2024, with Harry McLaughlin-Phillips to start in the playmaking role against the NSW Waratahs in Roma on Saturday evening.

With both sides naming strong teams as the Super Rugby tournament nears, Kiss has given the 19-year-old an opportunity to own the role.

After Lawson Creighton struggled with his execution last weekend against the Force, and James O’Connor making his way back from another hamstring injury, the exciting Junior Wallabies back will team up alongside Tate McDermott.

Former Junior Wallabies playmaker Harry McLaughlin-Phillips will get his chance to impress Les Kiss when he starts against the Waratahs on Saturday. (Photo by Matt King/Getty Images)

It comes after an exciting cameo during the 21-19 loss to the Force last weekend, where McLaughlin-Phillips’ twinkle-feet were on display.

If he can distribute and boss his side around against their arch-rivals, Kiss could well be tempted to back the teenager in for their Super Rugby opener against the Waratahs later this month.

Adding to the intrigue surrounding who will wear the No.10 jersey under Kiss is the return of incumbent fly-half Tom Lynagh, with the talented playmaker from a minor injury via the bench.

“We have a variety of skills within the good depth we have at No.10. Harry gets a chance to start after Lawson had the role in our first trial,” Kiss said.

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Elsewhere, second-rower Ryan Smith returns to the starting line-up, while Kiss has tweaked his back three with Mac Grealy named on the wing and Jock Campbell at fullback. Jordan Petaia, the versatile World Cup utility back, has been included on the bench.

Hooker Josh Nasser also makes a timely return to the bench.

“It’s a good sign too with Ryan getting his first minutes of the season at lock and Josh Nasser returning to add depth at hooker from the bench,” Kiss added.

Smith said the Reds were excited to get out into the country for the clash against their traditional rivals, which is expected to be watched by new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt.

“Getting back to Roma will be great. In recent years, we’ve very much stressed as a team that we are the Queensland Reds, not the Brisbane Reds,” Smith said.

“Making sure we get out to the regional centres to put on a good show is really important to continue to grow country rugby because we all know the talent out there.

“It’s been a tough pre-season with lots of running from the new coaches to get us in good nick.

“We always have a tough game against the Waratahs whether it’s a trial or a match during the season. They have a lot of Wallabies in the fold and the tight five is going to be a great area to test our set piece.”

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Miles Amatosero will start for the Waratahs on Saturday. Photo: Julius Dimataga, NSW Media

Waratahs coach Darren Coleman has once again named a strong side.

Although the Waratahs were well-beaten in the end by the Rebels last week, it was 12-7 at half-time before Coleman replaced the bulk of his squad.

Miles Amatosero, who has been described as a “mini Will Skelton”, will start for the first time in a strong looking pack despite hooker Dave Porecki missing after picking up an Achilles injury last week.

The match will be the first chance Waratahs fans get of watching their new recruit, with the 21-year-old returning with a big reputation after three years in France with Clermont.

“For the three years I’ve been here, I’ve searched the world high and low on the salary cap restrictions we had to get a world-class tight-head, six-foot six-seven-eight lock back, Aussie qualified,” Coleman told The Roar late last year.

“It took me three years to find one and the beauty is that he’s got so much upside, he’s still only 21.

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“What he has that none of the others have is that physical status and physicality. He’s a big aggressive boy.”

Captain Jake Gordon returns at halfback to partner Tane Edmed, while Mosese Tuipulotu, who has impressed Coleman after a strong pre-season, starts at outside centre.

Joey Walton, meanwhile, starts at fullback for the second straight week, with Max Jorgensen expected to return next week from a leg injury suffered at the World Cup.

The clash will be streamed on Stan.

Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs at Gallas Fox Park, Roma. Kick-off, 8:40pm AEDT

Reds (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler,  Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Ryan Smth, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDertmott (co-c), Harry McLaughlin-Philips, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell 

Replacements: Josh Nasser, Alex Hodgman, Sef Fa’agase, Connor Vest, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Tom Lynagh, Jordan Petaia, Cormac Daly, George Blake, Lawson Creighton, Tim Ryan, Isaac Henry

Waratahs (1-15): Angus Bell, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Lachie Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Mosese Tuipulotu, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Joey Walton

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Replacements: Theo Fourie, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Daniel Botha, Ned Slack-Smith, Teddy Wilson, Jack Bowen, Harry Wilson, Triston Reilly, Vuate Karawalevu, Ben Distaso, Jack Barrett, Sam Thomson, Gabrielle Vendetti 

Western Force vs ACT Brumbies at Revo Fitness Stadium, Claremont. Kick-off: 8pm AEDT, Saturday

Wallabies halves pair Issak Fines-Leleiwasa and Ben Donaldson have been given the chance to build on their partnership, with Simon Cron naming the Test duo to start against the Brumbies on Saturday evening.

The duo started in the Force’s 21-19 win over the Reds in Ballymore and with Nic White sidelined after minor surgery on his bicep, Cron hasn’t hesitated in giving the combination more time to gel after Donaldson’s move from the Waratahs.

The pair will play inside a settled midfield combination, with Hamish Stewart to join Sam Spink in the centres while Max Burey will once again wear the No.15 jersey. George Poolman comes onto the wing for Harry Potter, who has a minor injury and hasn’t been risked.

Issak Fines-Leleiwasa will get the chance to build on his partnership with Ben Donaldson. (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)

Up front and several injuries have seen Cron tweak his pack, with Test hooker Feleti Kaitu’u coming in for Tom Horton, who also has a niggle, while Tiann Tauakipulu replaces the concussed Santiago Medrano.

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There’s a change to the second-row too, with Jeremy Williams also copping a head knock last week with Lopeti Faifua to partner New Zealand recruit Tom Franklin.

It’s a familiar back-row with strong on-baller Carlo Tizzano called in to start for Tim Anstee. The No.7 forms a back-row alongside Michael Wells and Waratahs recruit Will Harris.

“We now have the opportunity to work on combinations again after last week,” Cron said.

“The boys have given us some laser focus areas, in their positions, to help progress the team. We’re looking forward to giving them another chance to play.

“Carlo Tizzano is back at openside flanker and he’ll bring energy and he’s a doer. He’ll put a lot of pressure on at the breakdown.

“Feleti and George both got good minutes last weekend and it’s another opportunity for them to press their claims for a starting spot. It’s a great opportunity for Tiaan to start at tight-head prop. We love what Lopeti brings to our team and he gets the chance to start this week.”

After their promising start last week, the Force will face a sterner test against a Wallaby-laden Brumbies side who are coming off a win against the Fiji Drua.

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Stephen Larkham has called up Wallabies veteran James Slipper at loose-head prop. He will pack down alongside Test hooker Lachie Lonergan and Rhys Van Nek.

Len Ikitau of the Brumbies breaks through the tackle of Tom Lynagh of the Reds

Len Ikitau has been named at outside centre for the Brumbies. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Rising Test start Nick Frost will partner raw lock Lachlan Shaw, while it’s a well-balanced back-row with Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer and Charlie Cale named.

Ryan Lonergan captains the side and is joined in the halves by Wallaby Noah Lolesio.

It’s a familiar looking backline, with Ollie Sapsford partnering Len Ikitau in the midfield, and fullback Tom Wright teaming up alongside Corey Toole and Andy Muirhead in an exciting back three combination.

Wallabies Billy Pollard and Blake Schoupp have been included on the bench, with plenty of proven depth to all come on at some stage.

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“We experienced a great atmosphere in front of our home crowd last weekend,” Larkham said.

“It was a good opportunity for several of our Academy players to be exposed to first class rugby for the first time.

“This week we welcome back several experienced players to the field and look forward to seeing how the team performs as we build into the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season.”

Conditions are expected to be hot for the match, with drinks breaks scheduled at the midway point of each half.

Western Force (1-15): Marley Pearce, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tiann Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Tom Franklin, Michael Wells, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, George Poolman, Max Burey

Replacements: Albert Alcock, Charlie Hancock, Atu Moli, Regi Churchward, Tim Anstee, Ollie Callan, Titi Nofogatotoa, Ian Prior, Reesjan Pasitoa, Henry O’Donnell, Ronan Leahy

Brumbies (1-15): James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Rhys Van Nek, Nick Frost, Lachlan Shaw, Tom Hooper, Luke Reimer, Charlie Cale, Ryan Lonergan (c), Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Ollie Sapsford, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright

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Replacements: Billy Pollard, Blake Schoupp, Tevita Alatini, Will Sankey, Jahrome Brown, Harrison Goddard, Declan Meredith, Austin Anderson, Hudson Creighton, Rory Scott, Fred Kaihea

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