Friendly fullback tussle keeps Reds Test pair on toes
Murray Wenzel |
Jock Campbell admits there’s plenty Jordan Petaia can do that he and others can’t but insists he brings his own strengths in the battle for the No.15.
The Queensland Reds pair will share the fullback role again on Saturday in Canberra against the ACT Brumbies, with Petaia in a starting line-up unchanged from the one that routed the Western Force on Sunday.
Capped twice on the Wallabies’ Spring Tour last year, Campbell missed the Reds’ first-round loss with an ankle complaint and came off the bench to replace the in-form Petaia in round two.
Fullback remains a wide-open position under Australia’s new coach Eddie Jones, and in a World Cup year that jostle at club level could turn tense.
But Campbell says the pair’s “friendly rivalry” – and distinct differences – keeps things amicable.
“Having someone as good as Jordy putting pressure on me and vice versa, it’s only helped both of us,” he said of Petaia, with whom he often plays golf when not at Ballymore.
“We’re quite good mates, we’re learning off each other and it’s a friendly little rivalry we’ve got going.
“We’ll have discussions over d (defensive) set-ups, running lines.
“But you have to take into account we’re very different players in our positions, bring very different things.
“Jordy brings a lot of things that I can’t bring, a lot of things that nobody can bring, with that speed and athleticism.
“I bring voice, composure, making the right decisions.”
The Brumbies underlined their quality with a tough win over the Blues despite the loss of prop and captain Allan Alaalatoa to an early head knock.
He won’t face the Reds, with Test halfback Nic White promoted off the bench to captain and No.10 Noah Lolesio also starting after performing the finishing role to begin the season.
Tom Wright will make his own case for a Wallabies No.15 jersey for the hosts, while former rugby sevens star Ben O’Donnell is on the bench and could debut.
The Reds have won four of their last five matches against the Brumbies, with three of those wins by three points or less.
“We’ve rotated quality for quality in a couple of areas and we’re confident this is the right group to perform for us on Saturday night,” Brumbies coach Stephen Larkham said.
“It’s a big game for our organisation; first game as the ACT Brumbies since 2004 at our home ground and we’re tracking for a big crowd so we’re ready to go.”
REDS: Dane Zander, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Liam Wright (cc), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (cc), Tom Lynagh, Filipo Daugunu, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jordan Petaia. Bench: Richie Asiata, Sef Fa’agase, Peni Ravai, Connor Vest, Jake Upfield, Kalani Thomas, James O’Connor, Jock Campbell.
BRUMBIES: James Slipper, Lachlan Lonergan, Rhys Van Nek, Nick Frost, Cadeyrn Neville, Rob Valetini, Rory Scott, Pete Samu, Nic White (c), Noah Lolesio, Corey Toole, Ollie Sapsford, Len Ikitau, Andy Muirhead, Tom Wright. Bench: Connal McInerney, Blake Schoupp, Tom Ross, Darcy Swain, Luke Reimer, Ryan Lonergan, Jack Debreczeni, Ben O’Donnell.AAP