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Reds hit by major personnel blow on eve of Super Rugby

By AAP
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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Star playmaker James O’Connor and coach Brad Thorn are in isolation after a second COVID-19 outbreak swept through Queensland Reds camp on the eve of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

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Jordan Petaia and Jock Campbell were also missing from Saturday’s trial match loss to the Western Force in Brisbane after exhibiting symptoms.

They’ll all struggle to feature in next week’s last pre-season fixture against the NSW Waratahs in Roma ahead of a February 19 season start.

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More than half the squad was missing when pre-season training resumed last month and the latest cases caused havoc to Thorn’s plans.

Usually a winger or fullback, Campbell was set start in the No.10 at Ballymore while it was also a chance to experiment with backline sensation Petaia at fullback, where many pundits believe he’ll find his feet ahead of the 2023 World Cup.

The Force, who will begin the season based on the east coast because of Western Australia’s border limitations, were impressiv e in a 42-33 win.

Former Reds star Izack Rodda was a looming presence in the first half and winger Toni Pulu scored two early tries.

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The Reds hit back with a second-half double to hooker Josh Nasser and led 33-21, before the Force scored the game’s last three tries.

Tom Lynagh, the teenage son of former Wallabies great Michael, was confident in his first outing for Queensland since moving from England.

He straightened up the Reds’ attack when injected at five-eighth in the second half, involving his backs and kicking with composure in a tantalising performance.

Fringe Wallabies backrowers Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson also looked sharp as they split minutes for the Reds, while former Brumbies playmaker Reesjan Pasitoa was busy in the No.10 for the Force.

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