Bench weapons to give Reds 80-minute edge

Murray Wenzel |

Hunter Paisami and Fraser McReight have been ordered to provide the late-game muscle for the Queensland Reds after the Wallabies pair were curious bench selections for Saturday’s Super Rugby Pacific opener.

Wallabies regular Paisami, who had COVID-19 last week, dominated at centre for the Reds last season while backrower McReight was player of the Super Rugby AU final.

They’ll have to wait for their chance against the Melbourne Rebels though, with Josh Flook and Hamish Stewart in the midfield and Harry Wilson, Angus Scott-Young and Liam Wright to start in the backrow.

“Fraser’s got an important role when he gets on, as well as Hunter,” coach Brad Thorn said.

“It’s competitive, that’s where the team needs to be, that’s where it is.”

“He had a week away with COVID, he’s coming back in from a pretty good year last year, playing outstanding rugby for the Wallabies, this is good for him.”

Wright said the finishers would add the final touches that were sometimes missing last season.

“It gives us that ability to keep the foot on the throat,” he said.

The Reds on Thursday celebrated the addition of Westpac as the men’s and women’s new front of jersey partner until 2023.

The deal includes a $100,000 commitment to local sporting clubs in Queensland through Westpac’s Footy Grants program while the company will donate $500 to the Westpac Lifesaver Rescue Helicopter Service in Queensland for every try scored by the men’s and women’s teams in 2022.

The announcement comes after the sod-turning at Ballymore’s $30 million National Rugby Training Centre earlier in the week. 

Many of the state’s retired greats, including four former Wallabies captains, will play in a charity curtain raiser to Saturday’s clash raising money for the UNICEF Australia Tongan Recovery Appeal.