Super Rugby Trans-Tasman Teams: Reds hand Henry debut start, All Black returns for Chiefs

Thu, May 27, 2021, 7:15 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
It's the battle of the champs in Brisbane.

Reds coach Brad Thorn has opted to hand 22-year-old centre Isaac Henry his first start in Saturday's must-win clash against the Chiefs.

Henry will make his starting debut alongside club team-mate Hunter Paisami as the Reds look to notch their first win of Super Rugby Trans-Tasman.

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"He's worked hard throughout the pre-season, picked up an injury but got his chance against the Highlanders and he now gets the start. He and Hunter Paisami are good mates from Wests and I'm looking forward to seeing that combination on Saturday night," Thorn said on Henry.

Filipo Daugunu has earned a recall to the starting side, partnering Suliasi Vunivalu on the wing as Jock Campbell recovers from a groin complaint.

He is joined by Angus Scott-Young and Feao Fotuaika, with Fraser McReight and Dane Zander reverting to the bench.

Halfback Tate McDermott will play his 50th game for the club in his short career, with Thorn hopeful the side can put a good showing on for him and the North Queensland faithful.

"We've been really disappointed. We know we have points in us but defensively, we're not happy with that," he added.

"Going up to Townsville means a lot to us. We've been up there with Reds to Region and there's a real strong Rugby connection up there, a real Rugby community...we want to put a good display. There's need to be a response from the last two weeks.

“Well done to Tate McDermott on his 50th cap this week. He made his Queensland debut as a 19-year-old back in 2018. He has worked hard within our program and continues to improve on his game. He’s our sixth Red to have brought up 50 games this year which is something special. As a group, we recognise and celebrate Tate’s achievement."

Huge dummy from the big man.

Meanwhile, the Chiefs will welcome back All Blacks prop Angus Ta'avaro and Mitchell Brown from injury.

Ta'avaro and hooker Bradley Slater join Aidan Ross in the starting front-row, with Brown partnering Tupou Vaa'i to complete the tight five.

In the backs, Chase Tiatia shifts to the wing in place of Jonah Lowe, allowing Kaleb Trask to move to fullback.

Despite their slow start to the season, Chiefs coach Clayton McMillan is wary of a bounceback from the Super Rugby AU champions as they head to Townsville for the first time.

“The Reds are a far better side than what they demonstrated last week, and they will know that and be disappointed in their own performance," he said.

"They were punished by the Crusaders and we are expecting a reaction.

"Brad Thorn is well known to us in New Zealand. I do not imagine he would have been too happy with that outcome, especially being a former Crusader.

"We are expecting a real backlash and we have talked about it all week and we are prepared for that.”


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REDS (1-15): Feao Fotuaika, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Taniela Tupou, Ryan Smith, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Liam Wright (co-c), Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott, James O'Connor, Filipo Daugunu, Isaac Henry, Hunter Paisami, Suliasi Vunvalu, Bryce Hegarty

Reserves: Josh Nasser, Dane Zander, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Fraser McReight, Kalani Thomas, Hamish Stewart, Ilaisa Droasese

INs: Ilaisa Droasese, Zane Nonggorr, Josh Nasser

OUTs: Jock Campbell, Harry Hoopert, Alex Mafi

CHIEFS (1-15): Aidan Ross, Bradley Slater, Angus Ta'avao, Mitchell Brown, Tupou Vaa'i, Pita Gus Sowakula, Lachlan Boshier, Luke Jacobson, Brad Weber, Damian McKenzie, Chase Tiatia, Alex Nankivell, Anton Lienert-Brown, Bailyn Sullivan, Kaleb Trask

Reserves: Saminsoni Taukei'aho, Reuben O'Neill, Sione Mafileo, Zane Kapeli, Liam Messam, Xavier Roe, Quinn Tupaea, Shaun Stevenson

INs: Mitchell Brown, Angus Ta'avao, Shaun Stevenson, Reuben O'Neill, Quinn Tupaea

OUTs: Atu Noli, Josh Lord, Jonah Lowe, Liam Messam, Ollie Norris

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