Reds bring in more youth for Highlanders clash

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Generation Next carried the Reds to their win last week and Nick Stiles has continued to back his young guns, bringing two Australian U20s players in on the bench for the clash with the Highlanders.

Reece Hewat and Jayden Ngamanu have been named to potentially make their Super Rugby debuts, a reward for their form with the U20s as well as some strong outings at club level.

Hewat captained the Aussies in Georgia and at 19, has enormous potential.

He leads by example and that is through abrasive defence, explosive ball carries and proficient lineout work, both in attack and defence.

The Nudgee College product has also been forced to fight back from adversity, having missed 18 months of football before the Super U20s campaign through a string of serious injuries.

"Reece is a player that I have a lot of time for," Stiles said.Hewat was one of Australia's best at the World Rugby U20s Championship. Photo: ARU Media/Levan Verdzeuli"You don't see a lot of 19-year-old footballers with as much leadership qualities as he has got.

"He's a talented footballer but he suffered a bit of adversity early in his career with injuries.

"He has had shoulder recons and did his ACL last year so he is exceptionally hungry for success.

"To see his face and then to see him walking around and interacting with the players after we told him he was going to be included on the bench was one of the joys of coaching.

"The pure enjoyment, excitement and hunger that he has got is going to set him up to be a very good footballer."

Stiles has also brought Caleb Timu into the starting XV for the first time, with Rob Simmons shifting to lock and Kane Douglas back to the bench.Rob Simmons shifts back to lock. Photo: Getty Images"Caleb Timu starting really gives us good balance against the Highlanders in the backrow," Stiles said.

"Against the Highlanders they obviously play a very quick game, a lot of kicking and I just felt Caleb coming in and starting really gave us some good ball carry and his offload is exceptional.

"When you play New Zealand sides you need to play with physicality and we have started Caleb for that very reason.

"To then bring Reece on off the bench and continue the work Caleb has done, hopefully, through the first part of the game will be important."

Samu Kerevi's name will again be absent from the team sheet, a minor pectoral strain keeping him out of action.

That is a blow to the Reds' hopes but the first glimpse of Ngamanu will be an intriguing one.Samu Kerevi will miss the final match of the season. Photo: Getty ImagesHe can cover both wing and fullback and his raw speed, coupled with a sharp right foot step and quickness off the mark, which will excite Reds fans.

"He's not a tall player but the way he runs the ball back and the speed he has got, I think it's really exciting," Stiles said.

"His talk as well in the back field on defence is exceptional as well, which is something you don't really pick up unless you're in the middle of the field.

"He communicates really well with the fullback in terms of managing the pendulum in the back three, which is crucial.

"I'm a big believer that club rugby is important and the way the guys go back and play club rugby is as important.

"I've seen him play live over the past couple of weeks and his performances have warranted a selection in the 23."


Reds team to take on the Highlanders

1. Sef Fa’agase

2. Stephen Moore (C)

3. Taniela Tupou

4. Rob Simmons

5. Izack Rodda

6. Caleb Timu

7. George Smith

8. Adam Korczyk

9. James Tuttle

10. Quade Cooper

11. Eto Nabuli

12. Duncan Paia’aua

13. Campbell Magnay

14. Izaia Perese

15. Karmichael Hunt


16. Alex Mafi

17. Markus Vanzati

18. Sam Talakai

19. Kane Douglas

20. Reece Hewat*

21. Moses Sorovi

22. Hamish Stewart

23. Jayden Ngamanu*

The Reds face the Highlanders at Forsyth Barr Stadium on Friday night, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.