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Queensland Reds lose more Wallabies after getting hit with second wave of Covid after media day

By AAP
(Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

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A media day in Sydney has been blamed for the second wave of COVID-19 that’s swept through the Queensland Reds’ Wallabies contingent on the eve of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

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Hunter Paisami, who played in Saturday’s trial game loss to the Western Force, and new co-captain Tate McDermott are the latest to test positive for the virus.

Fellow Test stars Jordan Petaia and James O’Connor, as well as fellow back Jock Campbell and coach Brad Thorn, were all ruled out of the Force clash after showing symptoms before the game at Ballymore.

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Reds football boss Sam Cordingley said Thorn would likely be able to lead the side in Saturday’s final pre-season hit out against the NSW Waratahs in Roma.

He said the Reds were waiting medical clearance on O’Connor, Petaia and Campbell, while Paisami and McDermott would definitely not play.

The latest COVID-19 cases come after the bulk of the squad contracted coronavirus earlier this year.

Current close contact regulations in Queensland mean there is no necessity for others who played on Saturday to quarantine while no Force player is yet to display symptoms.

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Cordingley, who said a trip to Sydney last week to shoot promotional footage was likely the cause of the latest COVID-19 infections, said all parties presented with minor to mild symptoms.

“It looks like the majority of our squad has had some level of impact so we can head into the season with some level of certainty,” he said.

There are efforts to develop a player pool for clubs to select from if stocks are low during the season, similar to what the Big Bash League introduced this year.

But Brumbies coach Dan McKellar said that some positions would be easier to fill than others.

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“It’s a tricky one, tighthead props of high quality don’t grow on trees,” McKellar said.

“You lose a couple to COVID and rugby is a different game to say the Big Bash where you can bring in club players.

“You don’t want to be exposing players that aren’t ready to play at a professional level.

“It’d be pretty tough to go from playing against Tuggeranong Vikings to playing against the Crusaders, as an example, as a front-rower.”

While a blow to the Reds’ preparations, the ambitions remain lofty for last year’s Super Rugby AU champions.

“Our goal is to have some level of sustained success,” Cordingley said.

“So finals at a minimum I think … we have to put ourselves in a position to win it.”

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