Reds rally around Petaia as winger makes starting return

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Reds coach Brad Thorn might be one of the few people who understands what Jordan Petaia has dealing with the past week as he prepares to return to the field.

Petaia missed Queensland's clash against the Waratahs last weekend after the sudden passing of his father, Tielu.

The winger has been named to start this weekend's clash in Brisbane against the Rebels and has been training with the side this week.

Thorn lost his father at 19, when he was starting out his professional footballing career with the NRL's Broncos, and said he, like Petaia, found comfort in returning to rugby.

Thorn said he spoke to Petaia this week and left a decision up to him about his rugby return.

"I had a chat to him, I guess I had the exact same thing happen to me at the same age, I was 19, exactly the same situation," he said.

"It was the same for me - I was with the Broncos at the time - training was good for me to be around the guys and he's really enjoyed being around the guys.

"At the end of the day, he's a rugby player, he wants to play. We're happy to have him involved and our thoughts and prayers go out to the family."

Thorn said the whole squad was pleased to have the youngster back in the fold in a tough time.

"It was a tough weekend, a tough time for Jordie and for a lot of us," he said.

"Those situations can be tough for a while, losing someone like his dad like that.

"He's been in training with us and we're really happy to have him involved with us and it's been good for Jordie and good for the team and we're looking forward to the game this weekend."

Petaia will start this weekend in one of four changes to the starting XV,.

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Tate McDermott and Fraser McReight return to the starting side as well while an injury to prop Dane Zander has forced another change at loosehead prop.

Jack Straker will have his first start for the team after Zander's season was ended by a knee injury in training.

GPS prop Jethro Felemi comes into the 23 for the first time in the wake of Zander's injury.


"He's experienced, he's been in New Zealand, been in the academy, ITM Cup he was up at Northland, brought him over in his mid-20s and he's done a good job," Thorn said.

"First game didn't really jump off the ground, got a head knock in the first tackle but he was doing his work out there, in the back end there.

"He could've gone back to New Zealand, he had the decision to make but he backed himself to get an opportunity and he has his opportunity.

"It's very disappointing for Dane Zander and it's been a bit of a casualty ward there the front row so it's been tested but Jack, really pleased for him and Jethro coming in as well."

The Reds take on the Rebels at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday August 15, kicking off at 7:15pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.