Reds v Waratahs Preview - THEY'RE BACK, BABY! - Green and Gold Rugby
NSW Waratahs

Reds v Waratahs Preview – THEY’RE BACK, BABY!

Reds v Waratahs Preview – THEY’RE BACK, BABY!

Live professional rugby is back in Australia and what better way to kick start this revamped Super Rugby season than with the clash of the traditional rivals.  Queensland and New South Wales have quite the history dating back to 1882, when they first clashed at the Sydney Cricket Ground.  On that occasion the Waratahs would come away with a 26-4 victory.

Almost 140 years almost feels as long as its been since the Reds were able to finish on top of the Waratahs in the modern era. And in fact, you have to go back to the era of Ewen McKenzie in 2013 for their last win over NSW. Only Chris Feauai-Sautia remains from the side, although the likes of Rob Simmons (Tahs), James Slipper (Brumbies) as well as Jono Lance and Greg Holmes (Force) will both feature against QLD this season.

Will this be the game where the hoodoo is broken?  Quite possibly.


Mitch Short clears from the ruck base.

Mitch Short grabs a rare starting jersey

You can mention the Tahs without acknowledging the hell of a journey they will take to get to the game and depart on the other side. Flying up and out on the same day, with the stadium being the only venue they visit in town, is a challenging condition of this COVID-era sporting event world.

To add to their challenges is the number of senior players missing through retirement, relocation or injury.  Damian Fitzpatrick, Kurtley Beale, Jake Gordon and Tom Robertson are among the names unavailable providing an opportunity for coach Rod Penney to bring in some exciting young talent.  Will Harris at No 8 and Joey Walton at inside centre will both make their Waratah debut, while Tom Horton, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Tepai Moeroa and Ben Donaldson may well do the same from the bench.

Donaldson, Walton and Harris will join other members of last year’s impressive Junior Wallaby squad, Angus Bell, Michael McDonald, Will Harrison and Mark Nawaqanitawase in the Waratah match day squad.  Up against them will be Queensland members of that side including Josh Nasser, Harry Wilson and Fraser McReight, who captained the side.

The Queenland team is of course missing Isaac Lucas (another Junior Wallaby), Izack Rodda, Harry Hockings and Henry Speight who were a part of the squad earlier this year. The Reds side, however, looks a lot more settled with the major changes being the much-anticipated promotion of McReight to the starting side following Lukhan Salakai-Loto’s shuffle to lock. Bryce Hegarty gets the fullback jersey back with Jock Campbell taking Speight’s spot on the wing with Filipo Daugunu getting his first start of the season as well. Brandon Paenga-Amosa returns from injury as well and comes straight back into the starting side.

Queensland still has found space for a couple of rookies of their own with lock Tuaina Taii Tualima and Josh Flook on the bench.  Flook wasn’t in the Junior Wallabies last year, but instead captained the Australian Schoolboys and Under 18s side and would have expected to be a part of this year’s squad had the Junior World Champs not been cancelled.

Key Match Ups:

Liam Wright offloads to Brandon Paenga-Amosa

Reds captain v Wallaby captain should be a mighty clash

Backrow bonanza.

If Michael Hooper’s position in the Wallaby side is under pressure it is because of the two lads he’ll face in the Reds 6 and 7 jersey Friday night.  Liam Wright has switched to blindside flanker, if that is in fact how Brad Thorn plays them, to accommodate McReight.  Wright made his Wallaby debut last year, and McReight starting gives him a chance to press his own claims. When partnered with Harry Wilson it creates one of the most exciting young backrows in the game. Hooper will have the aggressive Lachie Swinton partnering him on the flank, with debutant Harris at the back of the scrum. Harris (originally from Townsville) actually played that position for the Junior Wallabies with Harry Wilson shifting to blindside.

Attack from the back.

Bryce Hegarty and Jack Maddocks are two talented and versatile backs, looking to claim their respective 15 jerseys as their own this season. Maddocks had a much-publicised departure from the Melbourne Rebels and never really found his feet playing on the wing for the Tahs.  With Beale gone, he gets a shot at the back and stands to be his side’s most potent attacking weapon. Hegarty started the season at fullback but lost his spot to the superior form of Jock Campbell. The Reds missed his goal kicking and he forced his way back into the side for what would be the last game of the season, on the wing of all places, and featured prominently in his sides 41-17 win over the Bulls.


Both teams have had disruptive ‘off-seasons’ however I get the feel the Reds are actually a lot more united because of it.  It seems strange to say but the Reds’ experience should be enough to get them across the line. Reds by 20.


Junior Wallabies are 2019 Oceania U20 Champions

A Junior Wallabies Reunion


1. Harry Hoopert
2. Brandon Paenga-Amosa
3. Taniela Tupou
4. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto
5. Angus Blyth
6.  Liam Wright [c]
7. Fraser McReight
8. Harry Wilson
9. Tate McDermott
10. James O’Connor
11. Filipo Daugunu
12. Hamish Stewart
13. Hunter Paisami
14. Jock Campbell
15. Bryce Hegarty

16. Alex Mafi
17. JP Smith
18. Josh Nasser
19. Tuaina Taii Tualima
20. Angus Scott-Young
21. Scott Maloula
22. Chris Feauai-Sautia
23. Josh Flook


1 Angus Bell
2 Robbie Abel
3 Harry Johnson-Holmes
4 Ned Hanigan
5 Rob Simmons [c]
6 Lachie Swinton
7 Michael Hooper
8 Will Harris
9 Mitch Short
10 Will Harrison
11 Mark Nawaqanitawase
12 Joey Walton
13 Alex Newsome
14 James Ramm
15 Jack Maddocks

16 Tom Horton
17 Tetera Faulkner
18 Tiaan Tauakipulu
19 Tom Staniforth
20 Jack Dempsey
21 Michael McDonald
22 Ben Donaldson
23 Tepai Moeroa


Date: Friday 3 July, 2020
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-Off: 7:05pm Briso time
Referee: Nic Berry
Assistant Ref 1: Damon Murphy
Assistant Ref 2: Jordan Way
TMO: Ian Smith 

  • Still two bloody days to go! Come on stupid time, hurry up!!!!!

  • idiot savant

    Great preview Reg. Thanks. A prediction of a Reds win by 20 is very bold, particularly when they haven’t beaten the Tahs for 7 years. The Reds show great promise but haven’t really delivered over 80 minutes yet. Theyve come last or near as damnit for the last 3 years. And they have been towelled up by all the Australian sides to this point. Have they got it in them mentally to go to the next level all of a sudden? Scotty from marketing won last year by realising that his opposition lived in a bubble. Do the Reds live in a bubble of self congratulation about their promise and ability? I guess we will find out on Friday.

    I cant help but think the Tahs missed a trick with their back row. The new breakdown rules favour two open sides which the Reds have picked. The Tahs could have done that. But then again Berry doesn’t watch rucks so maybe the Tahs have the right idea. Im pretty sure Harris will go hunting Wilson so that will be interesting to see. The Reds line out has struggled for some time and I think maybe that’s why BPA has got the nod over Mafi. Scrum will be interesting. Hoopert and Nasser aren’t strong enough for super rugby yet so I doubt the Reds can expect dominance. Is that why Smith is on the bench, to have at least one strong prop late in the game? I expect Thor will play a lot of minutes.

    I love the Reds 9 to 13. Best changes the Reds have made in years. It boggles the mind that Thorn persisted with 2 giant non passing centres for two years when it yielded less than 2 tries a game. I think that will be the difference. I want to see what the Tahs youngsters have got but think the Reds backs are at this stage more capable and better defenders. The 22/50 is a rule made for Stewart. Cant wait for battle!

  • Huw Tindall

    Predicting a long night for the Tahs. The off season/pre season hasn’t done anything to solve their weaknesses from the aborted Super season earlier this year. Forwards too light, average scrum, no power players in the back line, and no tried and tested combinations. I’ve already mentally written off this Tahs season as rebuilding so won’t be annoyed/gutted when the losses come. Looking for some promising signs from the youngsters and some combos to start building. Big test for Penney this.

    On the Reds front despite the Picone 3 gone missing Reg is bang on when he wrote about them being more united. They got years of combos and development from NRC in the squad and are generally more stable. Same amount of youthful talent as the Tahs but a better blend of experience and stability.

    Hopefully the match isn’t a dour affair like the derbies sometimes can be and we just get to enjoy some exiting play and tries. Really at this point any rugby is good rugby though!

  • KwAussie Rugby Lover

    Thanks Reg, big call on the score mate. I tend to agree that the Reds will win but I think it’ll be closer. I think nerves, getting used to the referee interpretation of the laws and the sheer intensity of the game will even things out a bit. The Tahs are going to need Hooper to Show some leadership and get in and compete rather than hang off as he does so often. I’m looking forward to seeing how Harrison goes At 10 without Beale constantly coming in and stuffing things up aNd Maddocks at 25 where he’s not looking over his shoulder all the time.
    Going to be massive

  • Not sure about the margin. And I guess the new laws might have an impact too, and how well the players and ref adapt to them, but honestly, despite the long history of bad Reds results v the Tahs I just can’t see them losing this one.

    The Reds may not have put in a solid 80 minutes before lockdown and may not put one in now. The Tahs though, they certainly put in a consistent 80 minutes this year, shame it was never at the level you’d want from a SR side. Strip out their experienced players and, while I wish their youngsters all the best, it’s hard to see them playing like a team rather than a bunch of individuals at the critical moments.

  • Nutta

    Cheers Reg

    Good luck to both

    JOC really seems to be on a path to salvation. I have been a strong critic of him previously. I hope he continues on his apparent trajectory.

    I’m a fan of Swinton’s physicality and I’m hoping it really shows through tonight however I fear that he will be attempting to do so from behind a Tarts Tight5 that will be getting toweled by the Reds T5.

    I think that young Harry Wilson will have a blinder off the back of the scrum in-particular likewise off the back of the Qld T5.

  • Pedro

    I hope the tahs look better without Beale. He seems to make mediocre teams worse and there’s some good youngsters that might benefit without him hogging the ball/space.

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