Super Rugby: Waratahs to host Reds

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While his team’s final placing in the Super Rugby Pacific rankings is meaningless, Reds coach Les Kiss will settle for nothing less than a win when the Reds face the Waratahs in the Bob Templeton Cup on Friday night.

“We are focused on the fact that this is probably the most important game on the Australian rugby calendar,” Kiss said ahead of the clash at Allianz Stadium.

“There is a trophy up for grabs, which we currently own, and we want to make sure we do everything we need to to win it.

“It’s Queensland versus NSW. I don’t think there’s any need to be afraid of whether both teams are ready for it. It’s going to be a good game.”

Regardless of the result, the Reds will compete in the final round and finish fifth in the rankings.

In contrast, the end of the season may not come any time soon for the last-placed Waratahs, who won only two of their 13 games in a disastrous 2024 season.

The Waratahs’ poor form led to the sacking of coach Darren Coleman, who will coach NSW for the last time on Friday night.

“Darren doesn’t need me to feel sorry for him. That’s not the point,” Kiss said.

“I just know he’s a good man and a good coach and the boys will no doubt be playing for him this weekend.

“There will always be situations like that, but I know they’re going to happen on Friday night and he’s one of the reasons why. So we just have to be ready.”

Kiss continues to tinker with his team, making four changes to the starting lineup that crushed the Western Force 59-13 at Suncorp Stadium last Saturday.

Three of the changes affect the pack: prop Zane Nonggorr, lock Connor Vest and No. 8 Joe Brial – the son of former Waratahs captain Michael Brial – replace Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ryan Smith and John Bryant respectively.

“I’ll have about 20 family members at the game,” Joe said.

“I know what hat Dad will wear. You’ll have to wait and see.”

The other change concerns the position of the connector: Lawson Creighton has regained the number 10 jersey from Tom Lynagh, who drops to the bench.

“It’s great to have the options we have at No. 10,” Kiss said.

“‘Lawso’ has shown really good form. He will start. Tom made his first big appearance after a break against the Western Force last weekend and will be a hit in this game.”

With Lynagh back on the bench, experienced link-up James O’Connor will play for the Brothers in Brisbane Rugby to gain some much-needed playing time ahead of the finals series.

Red wines: Alex Hodgman, Matt Faessler, Zane Nonggorr, Connor Vest, Seru Uru, Liam Wright, Fraser McReight, Joe Brial, Tate McDermott, Lawson Creighton, Mac Grealy, Hunter Paisami, Josh Flook, Tim Ryan, Jock Campbell. Bank: Josh Nasser, Jeffery Toomaga-Allen, Ryan Smith, John Bryant, Kalani Thomas, Tom Lynagh, Taj Annan.

Waratahs: Paddy Ryan, Jay Fonokalafi, Tom Ross, Jed Holloway, Miles Amatosero, Lachlan Swinton, Charlie Gamble, Langi Gleeson, Jake Gordon, Jack Bowen, Dylan Pietsch, Lalakai Foketi, Joey Walton, Triston Reilly, Mark Nawaqanitawase. Bank: Ben Sugars, Lewis Ponini, Brad Amituanai, Hugh Sinclair, Fergus Lee-Warner, Jack Grant, Tane Edmed, Izaia Perese.

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