Reds v Waratahs trial game match preview

Fri, Feb 9, 2024, 7:18 AM
Reds Media Unit
by Reds Media Unit

You know the Santos Festival of Rugby in Roma means far more than a valuable Super Rugby Pacific trial when a family scoots 75km down the highway just so eager 10-year-olds can jump into a rugby clinic.

You can’t book a motel room in Roma over the next few nights because rugby in all its forms has come to town.

Men’s and women’s sevens teams, community clinics, good vibes and cash flow for the Roma Echidnas Rugby Club and elite teams putting on a show is all part of a bumper two days.

The men’s and women’s teams of the Queensland Reds will face the NSW Waratahs from late Saturday as the feature games of a festival that has become a regular feature of the pre-season calendar.

Narrabri (2021 and 2023) and Roma (2022) have hosted on rotation in the past so the proof of what has been created is already out there.

For Santos Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Kevin Gallagher, the festival taps into community spirit as well as a Scotsman’s love of rugby.

“The first staging in Roma was a real success. We look forward to another fantastic weekend of rugby, along with the associated economic and tourism benefits for the town,” Gallagher said.

Queensland Rugby Union Chief Executive David Hanham and Rugby Australia Chairman Daniel Herbert were keynote speakers at a Friday rugby luncheon in Roma.

“We are the Queensland Reds, not the Brisbane Reds. We love to be out in the rural community and want to thank Santos and the Roma Echidnas for their incredible work to make this Festival happen,” Hanham said.

“We all know the amount of talent that has come out of regional Queensland into the Reds and we need to keep investing and nurturing it.”

Former Wallaby David Rathie was born in Roma and raised on cattle properties. He played two Tests as a centre against France in 1972 after cracking the Queensland side.

His donated Queensland and Wallabies jerseys proudly hang in the Roma Echidnas clubhouse alongside a Wallaroos jersey gifted by next week’s QRU Hall of Fame inductee Tanya Osborne, who played in the first Echidnas’ women’s team in 1994. Good country rugby stories are never far away. Renee Donpon is on the bench as a prop for the Reds’ women’s team on Saturday.

She’s also the Roma Echidnas Rugby Club vice-president and was serving drinks at the club’s Ants Nest bar on Thursday night to welcome the festival’s set-up crew.

Saturday night’s trial is a tasty appetiser before the Reds and Waratahs meet at Suncorp Stadium in a blockbuster to open Super Rugby Pacific on February 24.

“We’ve got work to do as a team, as the Waratahs do, so it’s an opportunity for both of us to see where we are at,” Reds coach Les Kiss said.

“To be playing against each other in two weeks in Round One puts another part of the narrative to it. Honestly, whenever you play a Waratahs team, you have to be up.”

Kiss said he was again interested to judge his No.10 options with 19-year-old Harry McLaughlin-Phillips to start and Tom Lynagh returning via the bench after a back niggle.

“The No.10 is a big question here all the time. I’m confident in all the options I do have. Harry gets a chance to start. It’s exciting to have Tom Lynagh in full training after a little niggle,” Kiss said.

“I’m also looking forward to seeing (lock) Ryan Smith and (hooker) Josh Nasser returning for their first minutes of the season.”

Saturday 10 February

Women’s Super W trial: Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs 5pm AEST

Super Rugby Pacific trial: Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs 7.40pm AEST

Both live via Stan Sport