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Kiss of approval as Reds look to get the best out of Harry Wilson

Harry Wilson of the Reds charges forward during the round 14 Super Rugby Pacific match between Highlanders and Queensland Reds at Forsyth Barr Stadium, on May 26, 2023, in Dunedin, New Zealand. (Photo by Joe Allison/Getty Images)

Les Kiss has given his Queensland Reds permission to push their limits in a move he thinks will set Harry Wilson free again.


The mercurial No.8 was a walk-up Wallabies pick in his first season of Super Rugby in 2020, playing 10 of 11 Tests before quickly falling out of favour under former coaches Dave Rennie and Eddie Jones.

He has managed just two Tests in the past three years, despite dominating for the Reds and winning two Player-of-the-Year gongs.

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Kiss, who was replacing long-time coach Brad Thorn, could sense the 24-year-old’s frustration when he arrived at Ballymore last year.

“When I first met him I could see a driven young man who had impressed immensely through Super Rugby,” Kiss said ahead of Saturday’s season opener against the NSW Waratahs.

“I see a man with a bit between his teeth.”

Wilson, part of the Barbarians’ European tour during last year’s World Cup, worked on his support play and decoy running at club level in an effort to add strings to his bow.

But, after confessing he had gone into his shell in recent seasons, it’s Wilson’s hard running, footwork and eye-watering offloads that Kiss has encouraged back into his game.


“I want all the players to be skilful and smart, make good decisions,” Kiss said.

“Harry’s got some remit to have a go. There are boundaries and that’s not for me to tell him. He’ll find out, and that’s football, isn’t it?

“There’s an old saying: great ball players were defined by the passes they don’t throw.

“It’s understanding when and why and how much value it gives you.

“But I do like my guys to find out. I’m more on the side of finding out than stepping away.”

The Reds will be without veteran playmaker James O’Connor (hamstring) for Saturday’s opener at Suncorp Stadium, while Angus Blyth (back) is also in doubt.

Harry McLaughlin-Phillips, still just 19, is in line for a debut either off the bench or starting in the No.10.


The Reds comfortably beat the Waratahs in a trial game two weeks ago, but Kiss, a former Queensland State of Origin winger, said that meant nothing.


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1 Comment
john 113 days ago

For goodness sake Harry, now you’re not playing under Thorn, stop just running in to brick walls, you moron. I’m telling you this to save your career and your health.

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