Hall of famer Wilson’s flanker fandom for McReight

Murray Wenzel |

Fraser McReight can set his sights on owning Australia’s No.7 spot, says former star David Wilson.
Fraser McReight can set his sights on owning Australia’s No.7 spot, says former star David Wilson.

World Cup-winning Wallabies flanker David Wilson has tipped modern day counterpart Fraser McReight to own the position this season after the pair finally met for the first time.

Wilson, announced this month as a new addition to Queensland Rugby Union’s hall of fame, was celebrated at the club’s season launch on Friday.

One of the quiet achievers of the Wallabies’ golden era that peaked with a World Cup win in 1999, the No.7 also won back-to-back Super 10 titles for the Reds with upset wins in South Africa.

His sons Harry and Teddy are in the mix for the NSW Waratahs, with halfback Teddy likely to face the Reds in Super Rugby Pacific’s round one in Brisbane next Saturday.

Wilson, often a target of opposition’s tags in the days of rucking, doesn’t pretend to offer the pair of backs any advice but will put his Reds’ loyalties to the side next weekend.

He did savour a meeting with current Wallabies No.7 McReight on Friday though, and has tipped the 24-year-old for big things, especially now that Michael Hooper has retired.

McReight won Australia’s Super Rugby player of the year last season while he was selected ahead of Hooper for the World Cup.

“I know that can be frustrating; I was in a similar situation back when I started my rep career,” Wilson said of McReight’s apprenticeship.

He said Australian rugby would benefit from McReight’s loyalty after he opted to remain in the country and pursue a Wallabies career, rather than take a lucrative overseas deal.

“It’ll hold him in good stead; he’s ready this year to really make the spot his own,” he said of the flanker, who is signed until the end of next year.

“You don’t want to lose great young players like that, and he was patient.

“You could see he had the ability, was confident he was going to make it and now with Michael retiring it’s cleared the path to take on that role and it’s great for Australian rugby.

“He can be massively (influential), for the Reds and Wallabies. He’s a true No.7, a guy that’s great on the ball and he plays it superbly.”

The QRU on Friday announced a fifth-straight profit despite a reduction in Rugby Australia funding and expenditure to upgrade facilities, including the new National Rugby Training Centre.

That comes as debts of reportedly close to $20 million at the Melbourne Rebels have forced immediate staff cuts and placed the club’s future in grave doubt.

“The QRU has turned Ballymore around from costing the organisation in excess of $1 million per annum to (come) close to break-even, before our predicted event and function revenue,” QRU boss Dave Hanham said.