TEAM NEWS: Reds' Lucas named at fullback for Junior Wallabies Oceania opener

Oceanic U20s Championship
by Emma Greenwood

Reds playmaker Isaac Lucas has been named at fullback for the Junior Wallabies in their side for the opening match of the Oceania U20 championships on the Gold Coast.

Lucas, who has played at both 10 and 15 for the Reds this season in his breakout Super Rugby season, will start at the back with Waratahs-contracted playmaker Will Harrison at flyhalf.

Junior Wallabies head coach Jason Gilmore has named a squad of 28 for the clash against Japan at Bond University on Friday night.

The side contains nine U20s debutants including Aussie 7s development player Triston Reilly, with the potential for a further eight players to make their Junior Wallabies debut off the extended bench.

"Zaccy's trained at both 10 and 15," Gilmore said.

"We're really lucky we've got Will Harrison there as well, so he's had the majority of time at flyhalf at the moment but Isaac's performed really well for the Reds at fullback and has good rhythm there at the moment, so it's probably just a continuation of how he's been going this year.

Isaac Lucas in action for the Junior Wallabies. Photo: Sportography

"We know he can play five-eighth which is good and we've got young Benny Donaldson from the Waratahs, who can play 10 and 15 as well."

Gilmore said he had gone with a strong combination to gain momentum and build combinations early in the competition.

And while several players returning from Super Rugby outfits provided experience to the group, they also needed extended minutes of matchplay to ensure they were ready for the world championships in Argentina in June.

"It's probably a double-edged sword," Gilmore said.

"It's great that they are in Super programs but probably some of the game minutes that the boys are receiving at the moment, through no fault of the clubs or their own, they haven't played a lot of minutes, so this is where the tournament is really important to them - to get some minutes into their bodies and build up their fitness as well.

"we want to give all the boys who start across the three games minutes instead of chopping and changing too much, just to build that match fitness and rhythm in their game."

Reds forward Fraser McReight, the Junior Wallabies player of the year in 2018, has been named captain of the side.

Will Harrison is playing at fullback for the emerging Waratahs. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley

Gilmore said it was exciting to get to the matchplay stage of the campaign.

“We are looking forward to the challenge ahead, the team has prepared well and we’re eager to take on the tough opposition that Japan will be,” he said.

The Oceania U20 tournament kicks off at Bond University on the Gold Coast on Friday, April 26. New Zealand plays Fiji in the opening match, from 5pm, with Australia taking on Japan at 7pm, streamed LIVE on RUGBY.com.au.

TEAMS

Junior Wallabies to face Japan

1. Angus Bell, NSW*

2. Lachlan Lonergan, ACT*

3. Josh Nasser, QLD

4. Esei Ha’angana, VIC

5. Trevor Hosea, VIC

6. Harry Wilson, QLD*

7. Fraser McReight (C), QLD

8.  Will Harris, NSW*

9. Henry Robertson, NSW*

10. Will Harrison, NSW

11. Mark Nawanqanitwaswe, NSW*

12. Noah Lolesio, ACT*

13. Joey Walton, NSW*

14. Triston Reilly, AU7s*

15. Isaac Lucas, QLD

Reserves:

16. Joe Cotton, QLD*

17. Liam Usher, QLD*

18. Darcy Breen, NSW*

19. Egan Siggs, QLD*

20. Max Douglas, NSW*

21. Michael Wood, QLD

22. Patrick Tafa, NSW

23. Carlo Tizzano, WA*

24. Michael McDonald, WA*

25. Ben Donaldson, NSW*

26. Sione Tui, VIC*

27. Kye Oates, QLD*

28. Byron Ralston, QLD*

(*uncapped player)