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Tate ready to go in Reds' comeback for Heritage Round

Tue, 22/03/2022, 5:57 am
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
The Brumbies hosted the Reds in a replay of last year's Super Rugby AU final.

Gamebreaker Tate McDermott is certain to return to the Queensland Reds' line-up for Saturday night’s interstate battle against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.

The Wallabies halfback’s diligent rehab is set to pay off with the earliest possible return from the high ankle sprain he suffered when the sides met on February 25.

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McDermott’s return and the continued absence of injured Waratahs trump Jake Gordon (hamstring) is a potential game-changer for Heritage Round.

McDermott limped off midway through that wet night win in February. The Reds remember the 20-16 result as a huge show of character and the Waratahs lament it as a blown chance after dominating for most of it.

McDermott will have missed just three games of Super Rugby Pacific if his final on-field trainings this week back up the positive tones of co-captain Liam Wright.

“Tate has ticked all the boxes. He's an exciting factor,” Wright said.

“He’s ready to rip in but I’m not sure how he’ll be unleashed.”

The Reds are at their best when McDermott’s scheming and darts from the ruckbase and quick taps create a twin playmaking threat with flyhalf James O’Connor.

Flanker Wright is ready for full-on action too after his first minutes back from a shoulder injury against the Brumbies last Friday night.

He felt the hurt of losing to the Waratahs for long enough to know he prefers to extend a three-match winning streak in the oldest rivalry game in Australian rugby.

“We really look forward to our games against the ‘Tahs and at Suncorp Stadium no less. They’ve been steadily improving all season and putting together some really good performances,” Wright said.

“We’re expecting a strong, tough outfit. The ‘Tah Tough’ symbol they got going this year has been impressive and noticeable.”

The men in sky blue were wilting Waratahs throughout 2021, including a 41-7 thrashing when they last visited Suncorp Stadium. New coach Darren Coleman has turned around the Waratahs in a way that has highlighted many things, including some consistently poor selections by the 2021 brains' trust.

“They’ve managed to turn it around. It obviously didn’t happy quick with the rough (0-13) patch they went through last season but they’ve stuck at it and come through a stronger, tighter team,” Wright said.

“They’ve got a lot of form players and we expect them all guns blazing. They’ll have marked this one on the calendar as we did with Leichhardt Oval.”

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Wright diplomatically fended away any sense of injustice that 10 Waratahs have made the first 40-man Wallabies’ training squad yet only eight Reds.

“Look, it’s really good for the guys who have been selected. We’re really chuffed for Jock (Campbell). He’s been playing brilliantly all year,” Wright said.

“We believe a lot of Queenslanders can still be in that squad when the next one is released. Obviously, this is a preliminary one.

“Seru (Uru) is playing house down, ‘Blythy’ (Angus Blyth) is doing all the unseen work (as a lock) and there’s Hamish (Stewart) in the backline. They can get recognition if we play well as a team.”

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