O'Connor and McDermott return for Queensland Reds at Suncorp Stadium

Wed, May 8, 2024, 3:42 AM
QU
by Queensland Rugby Media Unit

James O’Connor and Tate McDermott will make their returns for the Queensland Reds in Friday night’s clash against the Melbourne Rebels at Suncorp Stadium.

The duo will be experienced finishers from the bench for the Round 12 clash in Culture Round for Super Rugby Pacific.

Sef Fa’agase will start at loosehead prop in the only change to the starting side which excelled in Christchurch last weekend when a landmark 33-28 victory was claimed over the Crusaders.

For utility back O’Connor, this will be his first match of the season after a diligent recovery from injury while halfback McDermott returns after a three-game absence.

“Lawson (Creighton) had a really positive game for us against the Crusaders last weekend. He will take the reins at No.10 and his game management and kicking game will be important again,” Reds head coach Les Kiss said.

"We have also been really pleased with how Kalani (Thomas) and Louis (Werchon) have gone at halfback in recent weeks.

“We thought we’d keep ‘Lawso’ and Kalani together because of their combination together over those games.

“It’ll be nice to have the experience of Tate and James to come off the bench.

“James has contributed in a massive way while he’s been on the sidelines as I’ve mentioned a number of times. He’s been a constant resource for our No.10s and to now have him sitting on the bench is fantastic.”

Kiss made a twin decision to bring O’Connor into the 23-man squad and free 20-year-old Harry McLaughlin-Phillips to join the Australian Under-20s on the Sunshine Coast.

McLaughlin-Phillips is now likely to play against the New Zealand Under-20s at Sunshine Coast Stadium on Sunday.

"This is part of the whole development experience for Harry," Kiss said.

"He's started for the Reds, he's come off the bench, he's played club rugby and now he has the chance to put that experience into the Under-20s.

"I've been in constant conversations with (Australian Under-20s coach) Nathan Grey, who has been very supportive of his development.

"Obviously, playing at the highest level is what Harry wants to do but he also sees the value of playing in this Under-20s comp, as I do."

Kiss said the Reds had full respect for the Rebels, who sit just three points behind the fifth-placed Reds on the competition table.

“They have had a good season and are playing some good rugby. We just have to be wary they are playing for a lot of things," Kiss said.

“It’s an important game for us on Friday night at Suncorp Stadium and we must continue to focus on what is making us work well.”

Kiss was today delighted to acknowledge the re-signing of in-form centre Hunter Paisami, 26, who has re-committed to the Reds and Australian Rugby for 2025 and 2026.

“He’s a player who leads by his actions. The form he is in and with his age profile, there are good things ahead for Hunter,” Kiss said.

Queensland Reds v Melbourne Rebels

Friday 10 May Suncorp Stadium

7:35pm AEST

Watch live Stan Sport

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

2. Matt Faessler – Brothers – Toowoomba Grammar School – USQ Saints

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

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

5. Angus Blyth – Bond University – The Southport School – Casuarina Beach Rugby Club

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

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

8. Harry Wilson – Brothers – St Joseph’s College Gregory Terrace – Gunnedah Red Devils

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

10. Lawson Creighton - Brothers - Padua College

11. Mac Grealy – University of Queensland – Downlands College – Souths Toowoomba

12. Hunter Paisami – Wests – Mangere College, Auckland

13. Josh Flook – Brothers – St Joseph’s Nudgee College - Brothers

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

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

Reserves:

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

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

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

19. Connor Vest – Souths - Grafton High School - Grafton Junior Rugby Club

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

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

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

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

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