Tongan Thor has a new sidekick with Baby Thor poised to make his Super Rugby AU debut when the Queensland Reds take on the NSW Waratahs in Saturday’s SCG clash.
The Reds have included 126kg teenage tighthead prop Zane Nonggorr on the bench, while the original Thor, Taniela Tupou, will again lead the charge against their traditional foes.
After his dominant return from injury last round, Wallabies flyer Jordan Petaia will start on the wing with Chris Feauai-Sautia sidelined by a calf injury.
Queensland coach Brad Thorn said Nonggorr had impressed since joining the main squad post the COVID-19 break.
“We think he’s a really good young talent and here’s an opportunity for him off the bench and we’ll see if he gets some time but we’ve got a lot of belief in Zane,” Thorn said.
“He’s not a little lad, he’s 126 kilo or something, he’s got some ability in the gym and he’s done a lot of work.”
Thorn said Nonggorr’s nickname as Baby Thor was apt given his similarities to Tupou.
“He’s a bit smaller at the moment but he’s got a good carry on and a good tackle, smart footballer and I’m sure his scrumming will only improve,” Thorn said.
The Reds coach was thrilled to have Petaia back in the starting side, with injuries limiting the 20-year-old to just a handle of games over the past two years.
“Didn’t he show his ability (last week off the bench) – we’ve been missing that for a couple of years and he’s looking to adding to that game.
“He’s got the potential to be a great player.”
Meanwhile, centre Lalakai Foketi returns for the Waratahs after a lingering hamstring injury while Jake Gordon will start at No.9.
Captain Rob Simmons has been cleared after suffering a rib injury in their last outing before the bye.
NSW coach Rob Penney said his players had put their disappointing performance against the Rebels behind them and he expected a spirited effor against the Reds
“We’re looking forward to a great battle and you’d hope the emotion would take care of itself by the fact of who the opposition are,” Penney said.
“The battle last time was a really good one and if we can get that close again hopefully we can push over and get over the line.”
NSW WARATAHS: Jack Maddocks, James Ramm, Lalakai Foketi, Karmichael Hunt, Alex Newsome, Will Harrison, Jake Gordon, Jack Dempsey, Michael Hooper, Lachlan Swinton, Rob Simmons (capt), Ned Hanigan, Harry Johnson-Holmes, Tom Horton, Tom Robertson. Res: Andrew Tuala, Angus Bell, Tetera Faulkner, Tom Staniforth/Jed Holloway, Hugh Sinclair, Mitch Short, Joey Walton, Ben Donaldson.
QUEENSLAND REDS: Jock Campbell, Jordan Petaia, Hunter Paisaimi, Hamish Stewart, Filipo Daugunu, James O’Connor, Scott Malolua, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright, Angus Scott-Young, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Blyth, Taniela Tupou, Brandon Paenga-Amosa, Dane Zander. Res: Alex Mafi, Jack Straker, Zane Nonggor, Tuaina Taii Tualima, Fraser McReight, Tate McDermott, Bryce Hegarty, Josh Flook.
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