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The Queensland Reds will welcome the NSW Waratahs to Brisbane in the opening game of the 2021 Super Rugby AU Competition and this clash should be an absolute beauty as both sides will fancy their chances of getting off to a winning start. Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be a thrilling match starting from 19:40 AEDT on Friday.
The Reds have been on a journey for the past few years under coach Brad Thorn and it really does feel like the investment in youth and the processes they put in place are beginning to bear fruit. For many, the Reds are favourites for this year’s competition and they will definitely be a tough team to beat.
Thorn has made some interesting selection decisions for this opening match. Having worked hard to help Taniela Tupou improve his stamina in 2020, the powerful ball running front-rower will come off the bench as an impact player against the Tahs.
Meanwhile, Jordan Petaia will start on the wing and not at centre where many would like to see him play. He’s an obvious talent and so getting the ball into his hands as much as possible has to be part of the Reds’ plan – a plan that will be harder to execute if he’s that bit further away from the play. Some have called for Petaia to move to full back but incumbent Jock Campbell has played well and deserves to keep the jersey.
As usual, a lot will depend upon how well James O’Connor can direct his team around the field and create space for his rapid outside backs. Fans will have to wait a bit longer to see former Melbourne Storm flyer Suliasi Vunivalu in a Reds jersey as he’s been stood down for an altercation with a security guard.
For the men from NSW, this could be a very tricky year. The Tahs have lost over 1500 Super Rugby caps in the offseason and will miss the experience of the likes of Michael Hooper and Rob Simmons.
Whilst the remaining squad might lack experience, they don’t seem to lack attacking talent and they should score plenty of points. Many of those will come from the accurate boot of Will Harrison and it will be exciting to see him go head to head with O’Connor today.
The two big challenges for the Tahs to overcome against the Reds are the forward battle and their own defence. They leaked far too many points last season and the NSW team will know that they have to win the battle up front if they are going to stand a chance in Brisbane. Have they got the pack to do that though? Keep an eye on the Tahs’ locks – with Simmons and Ned Hanigan gone, Jack Whetton and Sam Caird will need to become a powerhouse straight away.
The Tahs line out was rocky last year and they really need Whetton and Caird to help make them a scarier outfit.
The Tahs have some exciting players in the backs and plenty of points will come from Harrison’s boot. However, they are going to struggle against a better Reds pack and in the end, the lack of experience in the NSW team will cost them as the game goes on.
Reds by 7.
Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of what promises to be a thrilling match starting from 19:40 AEDT on Friday.
Where: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Date: Friday 19th February, 2021
Kick-off: 19:45 AEDT
Betting: Queensland Reds 1.29, NSW Waratahs: 3.62
Jock Campbell, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisami, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Angus Scott-Young, Seru Eru, Angus Blyth, Feao Fotuaika, Alex Mafi, Dane Zander
Replacements: Richie Asiata, Harry Hoopert, Taniela Tupou, Ryan Smith, Tuania Taii Tualima, Moses Sorovi, Bryce Hegarty, Ilaisa Droasese
Jack Maddocks, Alex Newsome, Izaia Perese, Joey Walton, James Ramm, Will Harrison, Jake Gordon, Jack Dempsey, Carlo Tizzano, Will Harris, Jack Whetton, Sam Caird, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tom Horton, Angus Bell
Replacements: David Porecki, Te Tera Faulkner, Sio Tatola, Jeremy Williams, Hugh Sinclair, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed, Mark Nawaqanitawase