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Banks and Petaia to go head-to-head in top-of-the-table Super Rugby clash

By AAP
Jordie Petaia and Tom Banks. (Photos by Getty Images)

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Jordan Petaia has retained his place at fullback while Liam Wright returns from injury for the Queensland Reds’ top-of-the-table Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Brumbies.

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Reds coach Brad Thorn experimented with the prodigious talent in the No 15 last week against the Fijian Drua, Petaia exploding for a first-half try and several strong carries as they escaped with a tight win.

It was enough to keep him in the jersey ahead of Jock Campbell, who has been in superb form and will line up on the wing with Josh Flook, who is keeping Test winger Filipo Daugunu out of the side altogether.

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What’s it like being the only non-Fijian player in the Fijian Drua?
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What’s it like being the only non-Fijian player in the Fijian Drua?

The 21-year-old’s best position has been a topic of intense debate ever since he debuted in the 2019 World Cup in the centres.

And, ahead of next year’s edition in France, it sets up a tasty showdown with first-choice Wallabies No 15 Tom Banks on Friday night.

Fringe Wallabies backrower and Reds co-captain Wright will return from a round-one shoulder injury in last year’s domestic grand-final replay on the bench.

Hooker Folau Fainga’a and former Reds captain and prop James Slipper will return to the starting side for the steady Brumbies, who are one point clear of the Reds in top spot on the ladder after four unbeaten rounds.

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“We’re happy with where we’re at this stage of the season but we know Friday night is going to be our biggest challenge so far,” coach Dan McKellar said.

“The Reds are a good side; we have plenty of respect for what they do, and I think the rivalry we’ve created with them over the past couple of years is great for Australian rugby.”

For the NSW Waratahs, David Porecki returns to the starting team after recovering from a groin injury and packs down alongside Angus Bell and Harry Johnson-Holmes in the front row to face the Melbourne Rebels.

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Geoff Cridge returns to the starting side after making a successful return from his ankle injury via the bench last weekend and joins stand-in skipper Jed Holloway in the second row.

No 7 Richard Hardwick will play his 50th game for the winless Rebels as they play for the Weary Dunlop Shield at the SCG.

And Harrison Lloyd and Greg Holmes will make their first starts of the season for the Western Force in two of six changes to the starting side to face the Fijian Drua at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.

– Murray Wenzel

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