Veteran Kiwi prop’s timely Reds debut after triple blow

Murray Wenzel |

Experienced front-rower Jeffery Toomaga-Allen is set to make his debut for the Queensland  Reds.
Experienced front-rower Jeffery Toomaga-Allen is set to make his debut for the Queensland Reds.

Jeffery Toomaga-Allen expects some “pleasantries” when he reacquaints himself with the Chiefs as the Queensland Reds’ new bench weapon.

The once-capped All Blacks prop hasn’t played Super Rugby since leaving the Hurricanes for Europe in 2019.

New Reds coach Les Kiss lured him back to the southern hemisphere, but a pre-season “knee grumble” meant he missed the first two rounds, including last weekend’s golden-point loss to his old club.

The experienced front-rower is now in line for a timely Reds debut off the bench at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday against the unbeaten Chiefs.

“Historically, the Chiefs always like to throw in a bit of chat,” the 33-year-old said.

“I’ve been away from Super for about five years, but hopefully there’s some chat and banter, I like some back-and-forth, within reason.”

Fellow Kiwi forward import Alex Hodgman (shoulder) and backline weapons Jordan Petaia and Hunter Paisami (concussion) will miss the clash with the unbeaten Chiefs.

A high shot on Petaia from Jordie Barrett resulted in the Highlanders player copping a three-week suspension.

The Chiefs beat the Reds 29-21 in a tight quarter-final last year, but Toomaga-Allen has seen enough of his new teammates to think they can match it at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

“Being on the other side of the fence now, you can just see how much they want it,” he said.

“Over the years you could say teams have rolled over against Kiwi teams, but we’re not that team.

“They bleed, bruise, fatigue like us – it’s anyone’s game.

“And going to dark places when you need to … that’s what I’m bringing to the team.”

Kiss said the charismatic forward had “found his engine” after missing about 10 days of pre-season scrum and maul work.

“He’s great technically and tactically, and every team’s got to have different personalities,” the coach said. 

“He brings his own style and it comes out. He’s a crafty player, finds his little angles in defence to challenge.” 

Coming off a morale-boosting 48-34 victory over the Force, the Rebels take on Moana Pasifika at FMG Stadium Waikato in Hamilton in the early Friday night game.

Despite a bruising stint in the starting side, Taniela Tupou has returned to the bench, with coach Kevin Foote rotating his front row.

Game-breaking fullback Andrew Kellaway has been moved to the wing, with Jake Strachan taking over the No.15 jersey.

Lock Darcy Swain returns from injury for the ACT Brumbies, who have shifted Tom Hooper to the back row to accommodate another injury to the in-form Charlie Cale.

Tamati Tua will start at inside centre against the Force at home on Saturday, while the visitors have replaced injured English No.13  Sam Spink with Bayley Kuenzle in their only change to the team that lost to the Rebels.

Izaia Perese will return from concussion to face the Highlanders on Friday at Allianz Stadium after missing the NSW Waratahs’ defeat of the Crusaders in Melbourne, while Ned Hanigan will start in the No.6.