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Queensland Reds keen for revenge in Super Rugby Pacific grudge match with NSW Waratahs

Unhappy with being “bullied” by the NSW Waratahs less than two weeks ago, the Queensland Reds are intent on revenge at Leichhardt Oval on Friday night.

The Waratahs weren’t afraid to get physical when beating the Reds 21-14 in their pre-season trial in Roma on February 5.

While the Queenslanders bounced back with a 23-5 first-round Super Rugby Pacific home win over the Melbourne Rebels last Saturday night, they are still angered by their loss to arch rivals NSW, and won’t accept being again overpowered, with the Bob Templeton Cup on the line this week.

“Physicality is something we claim is a part of our DNA,” Reds co-captain Tate McDermott said.

“Our defence over the past two years, that’s been the forefront of it, so to get bullied like we did in Roma is pretty disappointing and I’m sure there are a couple of boys out there looking to make amends for it.

“They’re the old enemy.”

Halfback McDermott will lead the Reds on his own this week, with fellow co-captain Liam Wright ruled out with a shoulder injury he suffered against the Rebels, despite having earlier this week been cleared of serious damage.

“Liam’s a huge loss, with his composure out on the field,” McDermott said.

Flanker Fraser McReight will replace Wright in one of two changes to the 15 that started against the Rebels.

“(McReight) has been one of the best flankers in Australia over the past couple of seasons,” McDermott said.

“He is great on-ball, and on the attacking side of things, not many people do it better than him, so Fraser will be a welcome addition this weekend.”

The other change is in the front row, with prop Feao Fotuaika replacing Dane Zander, who has also been overlooked for a spot on the bench.

Wallabies centre Hunter Paisami remains sidelined after also missing the win over the Rebels.

Reds coach Brad Thorn said his side would need to improve to beat the Waratahs, who were 40-10 first-round winners over Fijian Drua.

“We were pleased with the win over the Rebels, but we’re a fair bit off where we need to be,” Thorn said.

“The Waratahs will be a tough opponent. They’re playing good rugby at the moment. They’re in good form following a big win over the Drua and strong performances in their trial matches.

“We’re expecting a tough contest down at Leichhardt Oval.”

Reds: Feao Fotuaika, Alex Mafi, Taniela Tupou, Angus Blyth, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Angus Scott-Young, Fraser McReight, Harry Wilson, Tate McDermott (c), James O’Connor, Filipo Daugunu, Hamish Stewart, Josh Flook, Jordan Petaia, Jock Campbell. Bench: Josh Nasser, Harry Hoopert, Zane Nonggorr, Ryan Smith, Seru Uru, Spencer Jeans, Lawson Creighton, Mac Grealy.

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