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'Like a Scud missile': World Cup reject leads rout, but Reds suffer fresh blow with Petaia's season in jeopardy

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19th April, 2024
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Wallaby Jordie Petaia is in doubt for the rest of the Super Rugby season, and potentially Australia’s Test series against Wales, after suffering a shoulder dislocation in the Queensland Reds’ 31-0 win over the Highlanders in Brisbane.

Petaia was hurt when he attempted to tackle Highlanders winger Timoci Tavatavanawai, 33 minutes into the match at Suncorp Stadium and he fell badly. The loss meant Hunter Paisami shuffled from No.12 to 13 and he produced a superb all round display with kicks both deft and dynamic, hard hitting defence and powerful running.

Jordan Petaia of the Reds is taken from the field injured during the round nine Super Rugby Pacific match between Queensland Reds and Highlanders at Suncorp Stadium, on April 19, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Jordan Petaia of the Reds is taken from the field injured. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

On the Stan Sport coverage Morgan Turinui said of Petaia: “the word out of the Reds change room is he dislocated his shoulder and Reds medical staff had to help him get that back in. [It is] minimum 4-6 weeks to rehab that, if not worse. He’s in the changerooms with an arm in a sling. Not great news for Jordan Petaia and the Reds.

Tim Horan added: “Or for the Wallabies. You can rehab it for 6-8 weeks and see if it heals but the worst case scenario is an operation, and a reconstruction.”

The Super Rugby finals start on June 7.

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The blow comes at a time when the Reds ranks are stretched thin. Petaia was having a rare start at No.13 in the absence of injured Josh Flook, while Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight were sidelined with bans suffered in the loss to Moana Pasifika last week. Seru Uru was also missing.

Petaia started well against the Highlanders, as Queensland were attempting to beat the Kiwis for the first time since 2016, while his centre teammate Paisami crossed for a try within two minutes of the start.

Paisami was left off Eddie Jones’ World Cup squad in France and has been playing like a man possessed at times this season.

“I missed a few selections last year but I’ve managed to come out and enjoy my footy at the Reds and hopefully put my hands up for the [Wallaby] jersey,” said Paisami.

“Missing the World Cup was very disappointing but I just had to focus on this year, try my best.”

“He can run over people, comes out of the line , spot tackles people,” said Turinui. “The variation he has is excellent. He’s a much more complete player than we’ve seen over the past couple of years.

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“He’s always had a bit of a kicking game, a bit of a short passing game but tonight the control, the decision making, the choices… I was super impressed.”

Former Wallaby James Horwill added: “You can tell when he’s on, when he’s coming from about 15 metres out like a Scud missile targeting the guy out the back and when he hits, he hits to hurt. You can tell he’s determined – there was some sting in those tackles.

“He had some issues earlier in the season with some concussion, missed a couple of games but he’s back and feeling that again.

“The balance that he has in the game from a modern day 12, when you’re looking to balance the backline at a Wallaby level you just don’t want to be a battering ram, you want to have that sort of touch and nous to your game as well.”

Kalani Thomas impressed as a replacement for McDermott, as the home side went to a 17-0 halftime lead with lock Ryan Smith scoring in his 50th appearance after 19 phases of buildup.

Horan described the Queenslanders’ first half display as “clunky” and while there were clearly issues in the linking of Tom Lynagh and his outside backs, it was night and day from a week earlier when the Reds were stunned by Moana Pasifika.

Thomas was busy behind a dominant pack, and the Highlanders barely fired a shot. They spent one phase inside the Reds 22 in the first 40 minutes.

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Queensland spurned two great chances to extend their lead before the break but loose handling kept the scoreline interesting.

There was a slight improvement from the Kiwi team after the break but they too squandered a clear opening and the Reds held on. Lawson Creighton added a third try and Paisami’s delecious chip after the siren gave Suliasi Vunivalu an easy score to finish the game.

While the win was far from sparkling, it was comprehensive enough and the bonus point could prove key.

“They’ve struggled throughout the game to get a rhythm in their pattens of play, they’ve looked disjointed,” Horan said of the Highlanders, who had not been held scoreless since 2019 against the Crusaders.

The Reds’ win came after three straight losses.

“We spoke during the week and we’re not by any means at desperation stages but we were desperate to win for each other,” said Reds captain Liam Wright. “We wanted to put in for each other , our squad, our fans, our families and I’m really pleased the boys turned up tonight.”

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