Surprise candidate for Reds captain's armband
REACTION: Tim Horan has endorsed emerging Wallabies back-rower Fraser McReight to fill the void if the 21-year-old is called on to replace the injured Liam Wright as Queensland Reds captain this year.
Wright is forecast to miss up to 10 weeks after suffering an ankle injury in last week’s sole Super Rugby AU trial game.
It means he’ll be up against it to feature in this season’s domestic competition, which begins on February 19.
Eyebrows were raised when the 22-year-old was chosen as the Reds captain last year.
But the back-row justified the call, ahead of then 23-year-old Wallabies regular Izack Rodda, as Queensland remained unbeaten at home and reached the Super Rugby AU final.
Coach Brad Thorn could blood and even younger captain with Wright on the sidelines – McReight is due to turn 22 on the same day the Reds open their season against the NSW Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium.
Horan said with Wright out of the equation, McReight was a logical replacement as captain after leading the Junior Wallabies to the 2019 World Cup final and captaining in the second-tier National Rugby Championship.
He was also, on his first Test campaign last year, hand-picked by new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie to share a room with captain Michael Hooper.
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“He’s very young but he’s a good kid and I think it would be a great call,” Horan told AAP.
“Fraser’s captained many teams before and you’d think now he holds the No.7 jersey [with Wright not in the side].
“So he’s guaranteed to start, has the leadership history and [needs to be] well respected within the group.
“We don’t know that third point unless we’re inside the team, but I’m sure he is.”
Horan also said the Reds “had plenty to prove” after losing to the Brumbies in last year’s final.
“Liam is a very good player on the field and a great person off it and a big part of their rejuvenated culture last year, so it’s a huge blow,” he said.
“They’ve a lot to prove again this year and so does Brad Thorn.”
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The Reds and Brumbies are clear bookies favourites ahead of the Waratahs, Melbourne Rebels and Western Force to contend for this year’s title.
“I can see the Waratahs surprising a few people this year,” Horan warned after watching their trial game victory over the Reds last week.
“They had plenty in their first year … [Mark] Nawaqanitawase, [James] Ramm, [Joey] Walton just navigating the competition.
“I get that feeling that they’re building towards something.”