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Ex-All Black named to start in Reds’ grudge match against Waratahs

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Mark Nolan/Getty Images)

Former All Black Alex Hodgman will start for the Queensland Reds on Saturday night when they take on arch-rivals NSW Waratahs at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium.

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Hodgman, 30, is in line to debut for the Reds after previously enjoying stints with the Crusaders and Blues in New Zealand.

The New Zealand-prop has been included in a matchday squad that included nine players with Wallabies experience ahead of the newest instalment of this passionate rivalry.

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“It’s tough, it’s exciting, it’s rivalry as its best. It’s an occasion I live for,” new coach Les Kiss said in a statement.

“As a team, we know what the Waratahs are capable of and what this game means to them. Nothing is taken for granted.

“The team picked for Queensland has the responsibility to fill the jersey and taken on a NSW team we expect to be a difficult opponent.

“I’ve got good options at No. 10 and this week it is Tom Lynagh’s opportunity.

“He’s familiar with what it takes at Super Rugby level after his debut season in 2023 and he’ll bring that experience to the game.

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“Having a prop of Alex’s vast experience is fantastic. He’s played a lot of Super Rugby.”

Capped Australia internationals Liam Wright and Tate McDermott will co-captain the star-studded lineup which includes Wallabies Matt Faessler and Zane Nonggorr in the front row.

Joining those three in the Reds’ forward pack are locks Seru Uru and Ryan Smith, as well as backrowers Liam Wright, Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson.

With James O’Connor set to miss at least three rounds with a hamstring injury, coach Kiss has decided to start rising star Tom Lynagh in the No. 10 shirt.

Lynagh has some genuine attacking weapons outside him, too, including Hunter Paisami and Josh Flook.

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Downlands College product Mac Grealy get the nod to start on the left wing while former NRL star Suliasi Vunivalu will run out on the right. Jordan Petaia has beaten in-from Josh Campbell in the race for the fullback jersey.

There are also three potential debutants on the bench in Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, Josh Bryant and Cormac Daly.

Reds team to take on Waratahs

  1. Alex Hodgman**
  2. Matt Faessler
  3. Zane Nonggorr
  4. Seru Uru
  5. Ryan Smith
  6. Liam Wright (cc)
  7. Fraser McReight
  8. Harry Wilson
  9. Tate McDermott
  10. Tom Lynagh
  11. Mac Grealy
  12. Hunter Paisami
  13. Josh Flook
  14. Suliasi Vunivalu
  15. Jordan Petaia

Reserves

  1. Josh Nasser
  2. Peni Ravai
  3. Sef Fa’agase
  4. Cormac Daly*
  5. John Bryant*
  6. Kalani Thomas
  7. Harry McLaughlin-Phillips*
  8. Jock Campbell

*Potential Super Rugby Pacific debut

**Queensland Reds debut

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Poorfour 11 hours ago
The AI advantage: How the next two Rugby World Cups will be won

AI models are really just larger and less transparent variants of the statistical models that have been in use since Moneyball was invented. And a big difference between the Icahn centre’s results and AI today is that ChatGPT-like Large Language Models can explain (to some degree) how they reached their conclusions. In terms of what impact they will have, I suspect it will have two primary impacts: 1) It will place a premium on coaching creativity 2) It will lead to more selections that baffle fans and pundits. Analysts will be able to run the models both ways: they will see their own team’s and players’ weaknesses and strengths as well as the opposition’s. So they will have a good idea at what the other team will be targeting and the decisive difference may well be which coaches are smart enough to think of a gameplan that the other side didn’t identify and prepare for. For players, it places a premium on three key things: 1) Having a relatively complete game with no major weaknesses (or the dedication to work on eliminating them) 2) Having the tactical flexibility to play a different game every week 3) Having a point of difference that is so compelling that there isn’t a defence for it. (3) is relatively rare even among pro players. There have been only a handful of players over the years where you knew what they were going to do and the problem was stopping it - Lomu would be the classic example. And even when someone does have that, it’s hard to sustain. Billy Vunipola in his prime was very hard to stop, but fell away quite badly when the toll on his body began to accumulate. So coaches will look for (1) - a lack of exploitable weaknesses - and (2) - the ability to exploit others’ weaknesses - ahead of hoping for (3), at least for the majority of the pack. Which is likely to mean that, as with the original Moneyball, competent, unshowy players who do the stuff that wins matches will win out over outrageous talents who can’t adapt to cover their own weaknesses. Which will leave a lot of people on the sidelines sputtering over the non-inclusion of players whose highlights reels are spectacular, but whose lowlight reels have been uncovered by AI… at least until the point where every fan has access to a sporting analysis AI.

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