Lucas unflustered about Reds' constant backline shuffling

Super Rugby
by Emma Greenwood

For a young man in the eye of a selection storm, Isaac Lucas is remarkably unflustered about the uncertainty swirling around him at the Reds.

Lucas, who turned 20 just last month, has become the wildcard in a Reds backline that has been shuffled and reshuffled again over four Super Rugby rounds this year due to injury and form issues.

With two appearances off the bench, as well as starts at fullback and his preferred no.10, Lucas is becoming a fixture in the team but has little clue as to where he will end up this week in a crucial conference derby against the Brumbies.

Mainly a flyhalf or inside centre in his junior career, Lucas enjoyed his outing at 10 against the Sunwolves in the Reds' first win of the season.

"There's obviously a few more things you have to think about at 10, you have to steer the ship," said Lucas, who could face a showdown against older brother Matt when the Reds take on the Brumbies on Sunday.

"I enjoy the responsibility there and obviously I took a lot out of the game and there's a lot of key areas I can improve on but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

"I do feel more comfortable at 10, however, I've said before I really enjoy the challenge of playing at fullback this year, I've enjoyed my time there but I (also) enjoy my time at 10 and have played there my whole rugby career."

Hamish Stewart makes a desperate tackle on Gerhard van den Heever in the Reds' comeback win against the Sunwolves. Photo: Getty Images

Last year's regular flyhalf Hamish Stewart played a pivotal part in the game from fullback, kicking the winning penalty in Tokyo in a game he was unlikely to have started if former Waratahs playmaker Bryce Hegarty had been fit.

And he was not the only player to pose questions of coach Brad Thorn, who faces a tough decision between Moses Sorovi and Tate McDermott as his starting halfback.

Former Reds and Wallabies captain Andrew Slack has encouraged a "pick and stick" phiolosophy for the Reds through his News Corp column and while Lucas admitted to "a bit of shuffling", he was lost for words when asked whether the playmaking positions needed to be nailed down.

"Obviously we've had a few players come and leave in that position so there's been a bit of shuffling in that regard," he said.

Lucas regards the competition as a good thing for the team.

"That's exciting to have that in a team. To have that competition for spots is always a good thing," he said.

"It poses a few headaches for Brad but I think that's a good thing.

"Obviously with Bryce coming in, he's experienced, he knows what he'd doing and Hammer (Stewart) is young as well and he's played some good games.

"And now Tatey (McDermott) is coming in and having good impact off the bench, so I think that's an exciting thing to have in a team."

Bryce Hegarty of the Reds passes the ball during the round three Super Rugby match between the Reds and the Crusaders at Suncorp Stadium on March 02, 2019 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Bradley Kanaris/Getty Images)

Lucas expects Hegarty to return immediately to the starting side when he is fit.

"Obviously the team hasn't been announced yet so we'll have to wait and see but Bryce brings experience, he's played a fair few Super Rugby seasons, so he's got that with him but (Stewart) has been playing some good rugby as well, so we'll have to wait and see."

Hegarty, who is batlting a rib problem, did not travel to Japan last week but is expected to be fit to play against the Brumbies.

The Reds take on the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, March 24, kicking off at 4.05pm AEDT (3.05pm local) LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.