Queensland Reds make changes for R13 against the Fijian Drua

Wed, May 15, 2024, 3:35 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit
Round 13 Announcement
Round 13 Announcement

Wallabies trio Tate McDermott, Zane Nonggorr and Suliasi Vunivalu return to the Queensland Reds starting side for Saturday’s clash against the Fijian Drua in Suva in Super Rugby Pacific.

The Reds have named a revamped side that reflects workload and injury management, tactical calls and the return to fitness of forward Seru Uru for the tough Round 13 clash in the Fijian capital.

Halfback McDermott, prop Nonggorr and winger Vunivalu take starting positions after playing off the bench in last Friday night’s 26-22 victory over the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium.

In the front-row, Josh Nasser earns his first run-on role at hooker for 2024 with Wallaby Matt Faessler having shouldered the starting role in all 11 of the Reds matches to this point.

With Richie Asiata only just back from injury and Max Craig almost so, George Blake comes in on the bench as back-up hooker.

Irishman Cormac Daly returns at lock while impressive young backrower John Bryant takes over at No.8 from Harry Wilson, who has started his recovery after surgery on the broken arm sustained against the Rebels.

McDermott’s return at No.9 means the excellent form of Kalani Thomas will be utilised from the bench.

Elsewhere in the backs, Floyd Aubrey has been selected for his first run-on role as a winger while young Taj Annan comes in at outside centre.

The duo’s good form in StoreLocal Hospital Cup rugby for their clubs has made it easier for them to replace Mac Grealy and Josh Flook, who will both refresh after being rested for workload and injury management reasons.

Vunivalu comes in on the wing with Tim Ryan to be used from the bench on Saturday.

“There’s a refresh of the pack. Someone like Matt Faessler has played a lot of very good minutes for us this season by starting every game. Josh has done a great job as a reserve and now is his time to start,” Reds head coach Les Kiss said.

“Mac Grealy and Josh Flook have both been playing really well. They have a chance to replenish.

“It’s a great opportunity for Floyd to start after some strong games for his club GPS. Likewise, Taj Annan will have the chance at outside centre.

“I'm a big believer in giving young players a go when they are good. Tim Ryan has been proving that but it's also about managing their exposure the right way at this level. He’ll have the chance to attack this game from the bench."

Versatile lock-backrower Uru makes a timely return from injury via the bench.

The fifth-placed Reds are well aware of the danger posed by the Drua, whose four wins have all come at home in front of parochial fans this season.

“The Drua do have a strong home record and one of the most beautiful, amazing environments with the crowd in Fiji," Kiss said.

"We look forward to that beautiful noise, managing it and taking on an extremely tough challenge.  

"One of the key things I wanted to do was build depth in the squad. With the coaching team I have, they have done a fantastic job of skilling up the boys and getting them across all the detail this season. Overall, I feel everyone is raising their game."

Added Vunivalu: “It will be an exciting experience to go back to Fiji to play and we are all looking forward to it.

“We know they are a really good team playing at home with the back-up of their crowd. We believe in our game plan and what we have here.”

Queensland Reds v Fijian Drua Saturday 18 May  12:05pm, HFC Bank Park, Suva Watch live Stan Sport  

1.Peni Ravai – Easts – Ratu Kadavulevu School, Fiji

2. Josh Nasser – University of Queensland - St Joseph’s Gregory Terrace - Easts 

3. Zane Nonggorr – Bond University – The Southport School – Gold Coast Eagles  

4. Ryan Smith – Brothers – St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe – Caboolture Snakes 

5. Cormac Daly - Norths – Ul Riada, Ireland – North Kildare/Kilcock GAA, Ireland

6. Liam Wright (cc) – Easts – Anglican Church Grammar School - Easts 

7. Fraser McReight – Brothers – Brisbane Grammar School – Albany Creek Brumbies 

8. John Bryant - Souths - St Laurence’s College - Souths 

9. Tate McDermott (cc) - University of Queensland - Sunshine Coast Grammar School - Flinders Rugby Club

10. Lawson Creighton - Brothers - Padua College

11. Floyd Aubrey - GPS - Marist College Ashgrove – GPS

12. Hunter Paisami – Wests – Mangere College, Auckland 

13. Taj Annan - Souths – Brisbane Boys’ College – Mereweather Carlton

14. Suliasi Vunivalu – Wests – Saint Kentigern College, Auckland

15. Jock Campbell – University of Queensland – The Southport School – Inverell Highlanders     Reserves:  

16. George Blake – Bond University – The Southport School – Fasi Maufanga Eels, Tonga

17. Sef Fa’agase – Sunnybank – Shailer Park State High School – Beaudesert Warriors

18. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen - Norths - Wellington College, NZ  

19. Seru Uru – Wests – Ratu Kadavulevu School, Fiji – Namoli Rugby Club, Fiji

20. Joe Brial - University of Queensland – Scots College – Easts, Sydney

21. Kalani Thomas – University of Queensland – Ipswich Grammar School - Souths

22. James O’Connor – Brothers  - St Joseph’s Nudgee College - Brothers

23. Tim Ryan – Brothers – St Patrick’s College, Shorncliffe

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