Teen talent Harry McLaughlin-Phillips has been given a chance to impress with his selection at flyhalf for the Queensland Reds’ visit to Roma for the Santos Festival of Rugby.
McLaughlin-Phillips, 19, has been handed the No.10 jersey for the trial against the NSW Waratahs on Saturday night.
The return of Tom Lynagh from a back niggle means coach Les Kiss has scope to trial three flyhalves in this match because Lawson Creighton is also on the extended 13-player bench.
Pack regular Ryan Smith is making a welcome return from a calf niggle while there are also starting chances for Fijian Test prop Peni Ravai, winger Mac Grealy and 2022 Wallaby fullback Jock Campbell.
“We have a variety of skills within the good depth we have at No.10. Harry gets a chance to start after Lawson had the role in our first trial,” Kiss said.
“It’s a good sign too with Ryan getting his first minutes of the season at lock and Josh Nasser returning to add depth at hooker from the bench.”
The trial against the Waratahs is a scene-setter before the same long-time rivals clash in a blockbuster opener to the Super Rugby Pacific season on February 24 at Suncorp Stadium.
Smith is excited to get into action amid the upbeat mood of the annual Santos Festival of Rugby.
“Getting back to Roma will be great. In recent years, we’ve very much stressed as a team that we are the Queensland Reds, not the Brisbane Reds,” Smith said.
“Making sure we get out to the regional centres to put on a good show is really important to continue to grow country rugby because we all know the talent out there.
“It’s been a tough pre-season with lots of running from the new coaches to get us in good nick.
“We always have a tough game against the Waratahs whether it’s a trial or a match during the season. They have a lot of Wallabies in the fold and the tight five is going to be a great area to test our set piece.”
Winger Grealy has extra reasons to perform with his parents Paul and Kathleen hailing from Roma.
“My family is originally from Roma. Mum and dad, cousins and old school mates from Downlands will be amongst the familiar faces out there,” Grealy said.
“I’m pretty excited for the opportunity to start. There’s a lot of competitiveness for spots in the pre-season and you want to put your best foot forward.
“The way we are playing this year, lots of involvement and workrate are big things which suits the way I play.”
Saturday 10 February
Gallas Fox Park, Roma 7:40pm AEST
Watch live via Stan Sport
1. Peni Ravai
2. Matt Faessler
3. Zane Nonggorr
4. Seru Uru
5. Ryan Smith
6. Liam Wright (co-capt)
7. Fraser McReight
8. Harry Wilson
9. Tate McDermott (co-capt)
10. Harry McLaughlin-Phillips
11. Mac Grealy
12. Hunter Paisami
13. Josh Flook
14. Suliasi Vunivalu
15. Jock Campbell
16. Josh Nasser
17. Alex Hodgman
18. Sef Fa’agase
19. Connor Vest
20. John Bryant
21. Kalani Thomas
22. Tom Lynagh
23. Jordan Petaia
25. Cormac Daly
26. George Blake
27. Lawson Creighton
28. Tim Ryan
12. Isaac Henry
Super W trial: 5pm AEST: Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs (live on Stan Sport)