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Fraser made of McReight stuff for duel with Chiefs

Wed, 27/04/2022, 6:00 am
Jim Tucker
by Jim Tucker
Fraser McReight fending off Fijian Drua defenders at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images
Fraser McReight fending off Fijian Drua defenders at Suncorp Stadium. Photo: Getty Images

Fraser McReight’s high-powered lift-off against the Kiwi sides in Super Rugby Pacific has him primed for more when the Chiefs visit Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.

The openside flanker's productivity is amongst the best in the competition and he is relishing the chance to challenge his skills against the Kiwi backrowers.

The absence of former All Blacks skipper Sam Cane from the Chiefs pack hardly changes the equation at all for the motivated McReight, still just 23.

McReight is excited most of all about the Queensland Reds capturing the strength of their 17-0 start against the Hurricanes last weekend and turning it into a full 80-minute performance.

“We got a lot of confidence from that first half hour. We took it to the Kiwis with our defence and our attack,” McReight said.

“On top of that, we took a lot away about game management and how crucial little errors really hurt. There were key moments we lost leading into half-time and just after.

“There’s definitely been a lot of improvements to work on this week. Being more clinical is one thing for sure.”

The starkness of such a good start turning into a 30-17 loss has only increased the appetite of the Reds to make a home hit-out count at Suncorp Stadium.

The Reds have won 17 of their past 19 games at home in Super Rugby, including last year’s 40-34 victory over the Chiefs in Townsville and the one-point win over the Blues at the end of the 2019 season.

With Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper absent from interstate games in 2021 and 2022, McReight has missed the contest of competing against Australia's entrenched No.7.

With regular game time in 2022, McReight has regularly stood out as a buzzsaw of activity around the ball, in rapid support as a link player or as a top defender. He made 14 tackles against the Hurricanes.

No player in Super Rugby Pacific has won more turnovers (11) this season. There might have been two more but he has been penalised against the Melbourne Rebels and Hurricanes.

On both occasions, they were tackles he made where he quickly got into position to latch onto the ball.

He just needed a little more Hollywood movement with his arms to more clearly show the referee he’d released the tackled player before zeroing in on the ball.

“From my point of view, I’ve probably got to show a bit more (of a release) to the refs in those style of tackles. I do know I’m doing the right job as a No.7 when you are pushing the boundaries,” McReight said.

He has also made more linebreaks (7) than any Reds back which is a measure of his timing and the way he explodes into open space.

McReight is delighted that Brothers teammate Lawson Creighton has stepped up as a starter, filling the gap at flyhalf against the Hurricanes.

"He looked very comfortable out there. He just stepped up for a big task against the Kiwis, having played no time at No.10 this season. If he was feeling a bit shy about it, he never portrayed that," McReight said.

"We back him and he'll take confidence from that game."

The dynamic McReight’s biggest takeaway from the loss to the Hurricanes has a theme that coach Brad Thorn has no doubt stressed.

“We can’t beat ourselves,” McReight said.

It’s true. The Reds can play well enough to beat the Chiefs but that road is a whole lot clearer without avoidable mistakes.