Queensland Reds coach Brad Thorn is wary of playmaker Matt Toomua’s smarts as his side chases rare back-to-back wins in Friday’s Super Rugby AU clash with Melbourne Rebels.
The Reds blew hot and cold in a 2-5 Super Rugby record before the shutdown and opened their domestic campaign with a tight win over the NSW Waratahs last weekend.
Thorn has named an unchanged side to face the Rebels in Sydney on Friday, with exciting backrow combination Fraser McReight, Liam Wright and Harry Wilson again teaming up and James O’Connor to continue his flourishing partnership with halfback Tate McDermott.
Lock Angus Blyth has also recovered from a head clash that ended his night in the first half last week and will return to strengthen the line-out.
The Reds scored four tries to the Waratahs’ two at Suncorp Stadium last Friday and Thorn wants to see a progression against the Rebels, who pushed the Brumbies in their competitive return last weekend.
Toomua’s reliable boot and savvy game management will test a Reds side that has shown immense potential but failed to capitalise so far this year.
“This is game two for us and we’re focused on improving our game and knowing we’ve got a really tough opposition,” Thorn said.
“We’ve got a lot of respect for the Rebels. They’re a really good defensive side – good line-speed.
Smart man at 10 there with (Matt) Toomua. They’ve got a good set-piece – they’ve really stepped-up in their scrummaging, good line-out … they’re a strong side and that’s how we’re approaching it.”
Last year’s Australian Schools and under-18s captain Josh Flook has again been named on the bench as the exciting back awaits a potential Super Rugby AU debut.
Queensland: Bryce Hegarty, Jock Campbell, Hunter Paisaimi, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Fraser McReight, Liam Wright, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Harry Hoopert. Reserves: Alex Mafi, JP Smith, Josh Nasser, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Angus Scott-Young, Scott Malolua, Chris Feauai-Sautia, Josh Flook.