Wessels puts pressure on Stewart

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Rebels coach Dave Wessels has applied pressure to the Reds' flyhalf duel, questioning whether Hamish Stewart will be able to fill the sizeable shoes left by Quade Cooper.

The Reds' 17-15 win over Fiji Warriors provided little to no clarity as to whether coach Brad Thorn will lean towards Jono Lance or Stewart come the season opener in Melbourne on February 23 and he wasn't giving much away post match, either.

Should it be Stewart, Wessels cast doubt as to whether he will be able to fill Cooper's shoes.

"I don't know who the Reds will play at 10 in our game," Wessels said.

"Maybe someone like Hamish - we've already seen Hamish at Super Rugby level.Hamish Stewart is on the up. Photo: Rugby Australia Media"(There’ll) be a lot of pressure on a guy like that because Quade Cooper's been the king of Ballymore for a long time and there'd be a lot of people questioning that decision.

"So coming in and playing Super Rugby for the first time there's a lot of pressure on you there and to come in and have to replace Quade Cooper.

“There's a fair bit of pressure on young shoulders there, so that's Brad's call obviously.”

Thorn summed it up best when he described Lance as an "old version of Hamish", as they have similar characteristics littered throughout their game.

They are both stout defenders, have a cannon for a boot and are capable of creating a spark in attack but Lance, crucially, is eight years Stewart's senior.Stewart has played a starring role in both Reds trials. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"They're very similar - it's like an older version of Hamish in Jono - they're similar, just different ages," Thorn said.

"They're tough competitors and we will see what happens next week."

Lance was forthcoming with his assessment of the pecking order, too.

"Obviously there is good competition between me and Hammer at the moment," Lance said.

"I think you need competition and I'm pretty excited about what I have seen from Hamish in the four weeks that I've been here.

"He's a 19-year-old, he's got a pretty good head on his shoulders, he's tough and he's from the country - he's got everything you need at a young age.

"I'm excited by working with him, challenging him and him challenging me.

"Obviously I want to be starting against Melbourne in round one but I'm sure if you asked him you would get the same answer."

The Rebels host the Reds at AAMI Park on February 23, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.