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The three minutes that cost Reds halfback Werchon his debut

By AAP
Louis Werchon poses during the Queensland Reds 2024 Super Rugby headshots session at the National Rugby Training Centre on January 24, 2024 in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images for Super Rugby)

Louis Werchon’s Queensland Reds teammates tried to prank him ahead of his Super Rugby Pacific debut.

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But a tongue-in-cheek call last week to check why he was late, an hour before the team was due to meet, backfired.

The 21-year-old halfback was already in the building.

It was no coincidence. The self-styled Sunshine Coast talent was making sure there was no repeat of what happened last year.

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Named to make his debut off the bench, Werchon’s Mazda ute – complete with a plastic crown melted to the dashboard and The Goat number plate – was stuck in traffic.

He was three minutes late, renowned disciplinarian coach Brad Thorn pulling him aside at the captain’s run soon after to tell him he’d been dropped.

“Thorny just said, ‘not good enough, really’, and told me to go to the gym,” Werchon told AAP ahead of Saturday’s clash with the red-hot Blues at Suncorp Stadium.

“The meeting hadn’t even started … it (to be dropped) was pretty brutal and I definitely thought it was a bit unfair.

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“Now I’m not taking any chances.

“I’m pretty sure I was two hours early all of last week.”

Fixture
Super Rugby Pacific
Reds
34 - 41
Full-time
Blues
All Stats and Data

It’s not all talk. Werchon was five minutes early for this interview and says his entire approach to football has changed as a result of that tardy morning.

“I’ve worked a lot harder and I’m taking my footy more seriously this year,” he said.

“I still try and enjoy it as much as possible but have taken a step forward with my diet, my prep, recovery … but I’d never cut my hair (to conform).”

Werchon admits he thought his professional dreams had been dashed, the junior Wallabies talent heading back to finish his plumbing apprenticeship and hoping for the best.

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He impressed new coach Les Kiss and earned a new contract late last year, former schoolmate Tate McDermott’s three-week suspension opening the door for his debut off the bench in a 31-0 defeat of the Highlanders last week.

It was the Sunshine Coast Grammar graduate’s first game at Suncorp Stadium and he didn’t shy away, launching a brilliant torpedo that wobbled to trouble the opposing fullback with his first kick.

He was happy to pick a fight with a Highlanders forward and showed the dash and dare with ball in hand that he hopes will put pressure on Kiss once Wallabies halfback McDermott is free to return.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
1
Draws
0
Wins
4
Average Points scored
28
40
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
40%

“We’re all good mates but I’m trying to not only get (fellow halfback) Kalani (Thomas), but Tatey as well,” Werchon said.

“The dream is to wear that Wallabies jersey.”

Werchon’s teammates rate his humour and confidence while Kiss has leant into the entire squad’s personalities to get more out of a talented roster that had stalled under Thorn’s successful six-year reign.

“Les just wants us to all be ourselves – we got this far being ourselves – he’s been the best, communication-wise, footy-wise,” Werchon said.

“And Brad (Davis, assistant coach) with the backs, has been unreal.”

The Reds (4-4) kept a team scoreless for the first time since 1999 last week.

But they will face a monstrous task against the Auckland-based Blues (7-1) who put 46 and 50 points on the ACT Brumbies and Western Force respectively in the last fortnight.

“They’re clinical and we’ve got to break it down,” Werchon said.

“A win would be huge and what we did on the weekend gives us the confidence.”

 

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