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St.George Queensland Reds hooker Saia Fainga’a is set to earn his first Bond University Queensland Country cap against the Macquarie University North Harbour Rays in Round 4 of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship, at Cbus Super Stadium this Saturday, 13 September.
The inclusion of Fainga’a at hooker in head coach Steve Meehan’s team is one of six changes to the starting XV, with the other most notable being the inclusion of 17-year-old Campbell Magnay at outside centre.
Meehan said that Magnay’s first start for Queensland Country is a great example of how the NRC is giving opportunities to Australia’s best up-and-coming talent.
“Providing Campbell with his first start will give him an opportunity to show us his skill set and to see how he combines with an experienced Super Rugby and Test level centre in Anthony Fainga’a,” Meehan said.
“Campbell has been impressive playing both inside and outside centre for GPS Premier Colts throughout 2014 and his approach to the Country program has been excellent. The NRC is about developing Australia’s up and coming talent and Campbell’s inclusion in our team this week at just 17-years-of-age is a great example of what the NRC is aiming to achieve.
“I’m also pleased to have the services of Saia heading into Saturday’s game. He is a seasoned campaigner with over 100 Super Rugby Caps and plenty of Test experience so he will bolster our frontrow which has already been performing well.
“The match will be a special occasion for many of the players within the Queensland Country squad as it will be their first chance to play at a venue like Cbus Super Stadium,” Meehan added.
GPS prop Fred Burke will earn his first start for Queensland Country at loosehead prop with Haydn Hirsimaki move to the bench.
GPS halfback Sam Grasso will earn his first Country Cap in the nine jersey after Scott Gale suffered an ankle injury in the opening minutes against the Canberra Vikings. Todd Winkley (GPS) and Tom Pincus (University of Queensland) both return to the starting line-up on either wing.
In the reserves, Ryan Freney (GPS) will don the 16 jersey while University of Queensland Prop Campbell Wakely and Hirsimaki (Sunnybank) provide cover for the props. Easts’ Sam Fattal will cover lock while University flanker Jack de Guingand joins the bench in place of Mitch King.
In the backs, Sam Johnson who was the named the Reds Wider Training Squad player of the year at the 2014 Reds Gala Ball, will be in line to earn his first NRC cap in the 22 jersey after being cleared of a hamstring injury earlier this week. He will be joined by young halfback/flyhalf James Tuttle (GPS) and winger Giles Beveridge (Brothers) who both performed well for Country in Canberra last weekend.
Queensland Country will play the Macquarie University North Harbour Rays at Cbus Super Stadium on the Gold Coast this Saturday, 13 September, at 5:05pm (AEST). Tickets for the NRC curtain raiser and the Wallabies Test match against Argentina are available through Ticketek.
The match will also be LIVE streamed on the www.redsrugby.com.au homepage.
About the NRC:
The NRC is a new domestic Rugby competition, involving nine teams from across Australia. The inaugural season will run August to November and is aimed at giving players another link in their development pathway towards Super Rugby and ultimately Wallabies selection.
Queensland Rugby is fielding two teams in the competition – Brisbane City and Queensland Country – with Reds players split between the two squads. Players were chosen for either City or Country based on their existing player pathway and high performance discretion, to ensure an even split between the two sides.
Bond University Queensland Country v Macquarie University North Harbour Rays (Cbus Super Stadium, Gold Coast)
1. Fred Burke - GPS
2. Saia Fainga’a – Reds/GPS
3. Greg Holmes – Reds/Sunnybank (VC)
4. Dan Gorman - GPS
5. Rubin Fuimaono – Bond University
6. James Turner - Souths
7. Beau Robinson – Reds/Souths
8. Ben Adams - Sunnybank
9. Sam Grasso - GPS
10. Matt Brandon - Easts
11. Todd Winkley - GPS
12. Anthony Fainga’a – Reds/GPS (C)
13. Campbell Magnay - GPS
14. Tom Pincus – University of Queensland
15. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi – Reds/University of Queensland
16. Ryan Freney - GPS
17. Campbell Wakely – University of Queensland
18. Haydn Hirsimaki - Sunnybank
19. Sam Fattal - Easts
20. Jack de Guingand – University of Queensland
21. James Tuttle - GPS
22. Sam Johnson – Reds WTS/GPS
16 FEBRUARY 2019