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Sport McReight backs O'Connor as Reds think big

07:31  15 february  2021
07:31  15 february  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

Vunivalu shows class on Reds rugby debut

  Vunivalu shows class on Reds rugby debut Former NRL star Suliasi Vunivalu has displayed some nice touches in his first game for the Queensland Reds in a pre-season loss to the NSW Waratahs.Two late tries from replacement centre Joey Walton on Friday secured victory for the Waratahs after they trailed 33-31 early in the last of the four quarters in the NSW country town.

Queensland Reds fly-half James O ' Connor became the first Super Rugby player to score 100 points for three different clubs Friday in helping his team thrash a shellshocked Western Force 57-5 in an eight-try rampage. The Wallabies star brought up the milestone with a first-half penalty to match the feat he achieved during stints with Force and the Melbourne Rebels. Against the odds, Andrew Ready flopped down for five points from a driving maul to get the Force back in the game soon after the restart before O ' Connor was again involved in passing to a charging Fraser McReight for their third try.

James O ’ Connor offloads a pass against the Force. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images. Scrumhalf Tate McDermott was also strong, scoring two tries in a commanding performance. But the win came at a cost, with the Reds ’ already thin centre stocks diminished further with Josh Flook and Making his first Super Rugby AU start in place of the injured Hunter Paisami, teen ace Flook was forced from the field with what looked like a dislocated shoulder, while Stewart limped from the ground with a hip issue. QUEENSLAND REDS 57 (Tries: Daugunu 2, McDermott 2, McReight , O ’ Connor , Hegarty

Fraser McReight is more focused on replacing Liam Wright in the back row than as Queensland Reds captain.

a group of football players on a field: Fraser McReight (c) is confident the Reds can win this season's Super Rugby AU competition. © Dan Peled/AAP PHOTOS Fraser McReight (c) is confident the Reds can win this season's Super Rugby AU competition.

The young Wallabies talent was tossed up as an option by Tim Horan to fill in for the injured Wright, who could miss up to 10 weeks with an ankle injury.

But it will be reformed rugby renegade James O'Connor leading the Reds onto Suncorp Stadium in Friday's Super Rugby AU opener against the NSW Waratahs.

Still 21, McReight said it was the right call for a rebuilt side that lost last year's domestic decider to the Brumbies.

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Queensland Reds fly-half James O ' Connor became the first Super Rugby player to score 100 points for three different clubs Friday in helping his team thrash a shellshocked Western Force 57-5 in an eight-try rampage. The Wallabies star brought up the milestone with a first-half penalty to match the feat he achieved during stints with Force and the Melbourne Rebels. Against the odds, Andrew Ready flopped down for five points from a driving maul to get the Force back in the game soon after the restart before O ' Connor was again involved in passing to a charging Fraser McReight for their third try.

O ' Connor might have been listed as an inside centre by the Sydney Morning Herald, but he's still very much in the frame at fly-half. And the combination between him and McDermott is one reason why. But the other person who can play a role in that is Harry Wilson at No.8. We often hear about the halves But the physical nature of the competition means it's important to keep men fresh and not drop in performance. Unfortunately the Force simply don't have the depth in personal to do that. Brumbies coach Dan McKellar can make 16 changes to his side because he's got a a big squad with Test

"It's nice to hear (Horan's endorsement) but I'm not worried about it one bit," he said.

"It's my second year properly in the side and whilst Wrongas (Wright) is out there's a little bit more responsibility for everyone; we've all got to step up.

"I'm really excited for James and it's a pretty cool story to do the full 360 (after a series of off-field issues saw him twice leave Super Rugby for Europe) and I'm pretty proud for him and honoured to run out behind him on Friday."

Former under-20 Australian captain McReight earned a Wallabies debut under new coach Dave Rennie last year and was deliberately paired with fellow flanker and captain Michael Hooper on his arrival in camp.

He was initially stepping on eggshells around the skipper thanks to a teammate's prank that had him preparing for the worst.

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"It was a bit uncomfortable for me at first, given he's competition (for a spot) and he's the Australian captain and he's played 99 Tests at that stage," McReight said.

"The boys were trying to stitch me up but he was really welcoming and said if I needed anything he was there for me so I tried to soak it up like a sponge."

With long-time Waratah Hooper playing in Japan this season and Wright on the sidelines, McReight has a chance to establish himself as one of Super Rugby's premier backrowers.

He said Hooper's never-ending thirst to improve served as a good reminder for a Reds side eager to turn their talent into the club's first title since 2011.

"We showed last year we can do it, so this year we put a line in the sand, there's no more of that (rebuilding) talk," he said.

"We want to win this competition, and the trans-Tasman (competition due to follow it) as well.

"But there's so much hard work we have to do before there's any thought of winning."

Red card derails Perese's rugby return .
Izaia Perese is facing the prospect of a lengthy suspension after a reckless tackle led to a red card in his Super Rugby comeback for the Waratahs.The former Queensland Reds back was sent off after 36 minutes of the opener against his old team when he flipped Hunter Paisami in an unnecessary follow-up to a tackle that had already forced the ball loose.

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