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Wallaby Fraser McReight returns with Reds ready for Crusaders clash

By Finn Morton
Fraser McReight of the Reds scores a try during the round three Super Rugby Pacific match between Queensland Reds and Chiefs at Suncorp Stadium, on March 09, 2024, in Brisbane, Australia. (Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

After two weeks on the sidelines, Wallaby Fraser McReight will return for the Reds this weekend when the Queenslanders take on the Crusaders in “one of the great places” for rugby union.

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McReight, 25, was sent off during the Reds’ disappointing defeat to Moana Pasifika last month. The flanker missed the 31-nil win over the Highlanders and the heartbreaking loss to the Blues at home.

But after serving the ban, McReight returns to the Reds’ starting side as one of four changes to play defending Super Rugby Pacific champions the Crusaders.

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Fiji international Peni Ravai returns to the starting front-row, Lawson Creighton gets the nod at fly-half and Mac Grealy is back on the left wing after a load management rest week.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
4
Draws
0
Wins
1
Average Points scored
36
21
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
40%

Interestingly, Grealy’s return along with the retention of last week’s hat-trick hero Tim Ryan in the run-on side – although he’s moved to the other wing – has forced Wallaby Suliasi Vunivalu onto the reserves bench.

“The Crusaders have great pride in their jersey and who they represent,” coach Les Kiss said in a statement.

“Parts of our game have grown in every match. We have confidence in the things that work for us and we’ll stay rock solid to those.

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“We are going to one of the great places in the world to play rugby and we will take on the challenge.

“Lawson is a very well-organised player with a strong kicking game. We are very comfortable with him leading from No. 10 with Tom managing a slight hamstring injury.

“We have Harry (McLaughlin-Phillps) to get involved from the bench.

“Tim Ryan put forward a compelling case to start again after his performance against the Blues.

“Mac (Grealy) returns and Suli’s involvement will be from the bench this week.

“We welcome back Fraser which is fantastic. In his two games away, we saw John Bryant really step up as a starter and there was impressive recognition too for Joe Brial. Joe will return to club rugby on Saturday with those debut games behind him.”

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Fiji prop Peni Ravai joins Matt Faessler and Jeffery Toomaga-Allen in the front-row, while Ryan Smith and Angus Blyth round out the tight five as the two middle-rowers. Captain Liam Wright joins Fraser McReight and Harry Wilson in a familiar Reds backrow.

With Tom Lynagh unavailable due to a hamstring complaint, Lawson Creighton will wear the No. 10 jersey with Harry McLaughlin-Phillips set to come of the bench.

Creighton joins Kalani Thomas in the halves, with Hunter Paisami and Josh Flook just outside the pair in the midfield. Completing the backs are Grealy, Ryan and Jock Campbell in the outside backs.

This will be Hunter Paisami’s 50th match for the Reds after debuting for the club in 2020.

“Hunter has been exceptional for us. It’s the way he has grown his game,” Kiss added.

“He obviously carries hard but he’s also showing his skill at first and second receiver. His kicking has been impeccable and he’s also leading form the front with his experience.”

Queensland Reds team to take on Crusaders

  1. Peni Ravai
  2. Matt Faessler
  3. Jeffery Toomaga-Allen
  4. Ryan Smith
  5. Angus Blyth
  6. Liam Wright (c)
  7. Fraser McReight
  8. Harry Wilson
  9. Kalani Thomas
  10. Lawson Creighton
  11. Mac Grealy
  12. Hunter Paisami
  13. Josh Flook
  14. Tim Ryan
  15. Jock Campbell

Replacements

  1. Josh Nasser
  2. Sef Fa’agase
  3. Zane Nonggorr
  4. Connor Vest
  5. John Bryant
  6. Louis Werchon
  7. Harry McLaughlin-Phillips
  8. Suliasi Vunivalu
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