Les Kiss will get another big insight into who should wear the No.10 jersey in 2024, with Harry McLaughlin-Phillips to start in the playmaking role against the NSW Waratahs in Roma on Saturday evening.
With both sides naming strong teams as the Super Rugby tournament nears, Kiss has given the 19-year-old an opportunity to own the role.
After Lawson Creighton struggled with his execution last weekend against the Force, and James O’Connor making his way back from another hamstring injury, the exciting Junior Wallabies back will team up alongside Tate McDermott.
It comes after an exciting cameo during the 21-19 loss to the Force last weekend, where McLaughlin-Phillips’ twinkle-feet on display.
If he can distribute and boss his side around against their arch-rivals, Kiss could well be tempted to back the teenager in for their Super Rugby opener against the Waratahs later this month.
Adding to the intrigue surrounding who will wear the No.10 jersey under Kiss is the return of incumbent fly-half Tom Lynagh, with the talented playmaker from a minor injury via the bench.
“We have a variety of skills within the good depth we have at No.10. Harry gets a chance to start after Lawson had the role in our first trial,” Kiss said.
Elsewhere, second-rower Ryan Smith returns to the starting line-up, while Kiss has tweaked his back three with Mac Grealy named on the wing and Jock Campbell at fullback. Jordan Petaia, the versatile World Cup utility back, has been included on the bench.
Hooker Josh Nasser also makes a timely return to the bench.
“It’s a good sign too with Ryan getting his first minutes of the season at lock and Josh Nasser returning to add depth at hooker from the bench,” Kiss added.
Smith said the Reds were excited to get out into the country for the clash against their traditional rivals, which is expected to be watched by new Wallabies coach Joe Schmidt.
“Getting back to Roma will be great. In recent years, we’ve very much stressed as a team that we are the Queensland Reds, not the Brisbane Reds,” Smith said.
“Making sure we get out to the regional centres to put on a good show is really important to continue to grow country rugby because we all know the talent out there.
“It’s been a tough pre-season with lots of running from the new coaches to get us in good nick.
“We always have a tough game against the Waratahs whether it’s a trial or a match during the season. They have a lot of Wallabies in the fold and the tight five is going to be a great area to test our set piece.”
Waratahs coach Darren Coleman has once again named a strong side.
Although the Waratahs were well-beaten in the end by the Rebels last week, it was 12-7 at half-time before Coleman replaced the bulk of his squad.
Miles Amatosero, who has been described as a “mini Will Skelton”, will start for the first time in a strong looking pack despite hooker Dave Porecki missing after picking up an Achilles injury last week.
The match will be the first chance Waratahs fans get of watching their new recruit, with the 21-year-old returning with a big reputation after three years in France with Clermont.
“For the three years I’ve been here, I’ve searched the world high and low on the salary cap restrictions we had to get a world-class tight-head, six-foot six-seven-eight lock back, Aussie qualified,” Coleman told The Roar late last year.
“It took me three years to find one and the beauty is that he’s got so much upside, he’s still only 21.
“What he has that none of the others have is that physical status and physicality. He’s a big aggressive boy.”
Captain Jake Gordon returns at halfback to partner Tane Edmed, while Mosese Tuipulotu, who has impressed Coleman after a strong pre-season, starts at outside centre.
Joey Walton, meanwhile, starts at fullback for the second straight week, with Max Jorgensen expected to return next week from a leg injury suffered at the World Cup.
The clash will be streamed on Stan.
Queensland Reds v NSW Waratahs at Gallas Fox Park, Roma. Kick-off, 8:40pm AEDT
Reds (1-15): Peni Ravai, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggorr, Seru Uru, Ryan Smth, Liam Wright (co-c), Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDertmott (co-c), Harry McLaughlin-Philips, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Suliasi Vunivalu, Jock Campbell
Replacements: Josh Nasser, Alex Hodgman, Sef Fa’agase, Connor Vest, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Tom Lynagh, Jordan Petaia, Cormac Daly, George Blake, Lawson Creighton, Tim Ryan, Isaac Henry
Waratahs (1-15): Angus Bell, Mahe Vailanu, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Lachie Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon (c), Tane Edmed, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Mosese Tuipulotu, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Joey Walton
Replacements: Theo Fourie, Hayden Thompson-Stringer, Daniel Botha, Ned Slack-Smith, Teddy Wilson, Jack Bowen, Harry Wilson, Triston Reilly, Vuate Karawalevu, Ben Distaso, Jack Barrett, Sam Thomson, Gabrielle Vendetti