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Reds vs Tahs: Tate McDermott sets the scene for rugby’s own ‘State of Origin’

By Finn Morton
(L-R) Waratahs captain Jake Gordon and Reds captain Tate McDermott at the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific Season Launch on February 14, 2024 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Dave Rowland/Getty Images for Rugby Australia)

Rugby League’s State of Origin is one of the most entertaining products in Australian sport. Three times every year, the best Australian players in the NRL go head-to-head in a gladiatorial war.


It’s State against State and mate against mate. Australians hear that very phrase year after year, and it never fails to set the scene, raise goosebumps and ignite unwavering passion.

But that’s still months away. Instead, now is the time for rugby union fans to get excited for their own “State of Origin” grudge match between the Queensland Reds and NSW Waratahs.

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Sporting similar shades of maroon and sky blue that are iconic in the NRL’s version, the Reds and the Tahs will be counting down the days until their Super Rugby Pacific season openers.

The Reds will take on the Tahs at ‘the cauldron’ that is Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium. It’s hosted some iconic battles over the years, and a new chapter is about to be written.

“It’s our version of State of Origin. The oldest rivalry pretty much in Australian sport,” Reds captain Tate McDermott told reporters at the Super Rugby Pacific season launch on Wednesday.

“A lot of people don’t know that but it’s big. There’s a lot in it, there’s a lot on the line.


“To have them in our home at Suncorp Stadium in a week and a half’s time, it’s brilliant.”

But the stage is even grander for the Queensland Reds as they prepare to usher in a new era this season. Former Brad Thron has gone and new boss Les Kiss is at the helm.


Kiss, who formerly worked at London Irish in England, has already inspired the Reds to an impressive 32-7 win over the Waratahs in pre-season out in Roma.

For a team that’s looking to build on their eighth-place finish last season, although they were the only team to beat the Chiefs in the regular season, Kiss’ influence has “definitely” set them up for a better year in 2023.


“There has been change,” McDermott said. “Thorny was there for six years and laid a brilliant foundation for us.

“We didn’t get the results with Thorny but there’s a lot of good stuff that it created.

“Les hasn’t come in and taken the broom through everything. He’s kept the good stuff which needed to remain and he’s built on top of that.

“It’s been really exciting to work under the vision he’s got for us, the game model we want to plan, and I guess the detail that’s gone into everything that he’s put in place.

“We’re miles ahead of where we were last year.”


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