St.George Queensland Reds fullback Jamie-Jerry Taulagi is set to make his Buildcorp National Rugby Championship debut this Saturday in Canberra, when Bond University Queensland Country take on the University of Canberra Vikings at Viking Park.
The inclusion of Taulagi is one of three changes made to the Queensland Country starting line-up by head coach Steve Meehan, from the side that went down to the Charles Sturt University NSW Country Eagles at Bond University in Round 2.
GPS lock Dan Gorman, who was a late inclusion to the Country squad last Saturday following an injury to Cameron Bracewell, will earn his first start for the team this Saturday in place of Sam Fattal who moves to the bench.
Queensland Premier Rugby’s leading try scorer, Giles Beveridge, will also make his NRC debut this weekend, featuring on the wing in place of Tom Pincus.
Meehan welcomed the addition of Taulagi and Beveridge to the back three, and said their inclusion in the team would provide some additional strike power.
“Taulagi has shown his attacking flare at club level with University of Queensland and we’ve seen glimpses of it in Super Rugby through his appearances for the Reds,” Meehan said.
“After spending a number of weeks on the sideline with a fractured foot, which kept him from playing in the Premier Rugby Grand Final, Jamie-Jerry will be excited to get back on the pitch this Saturday.
“Giles has a great existing combination with fellow Queensland Country and Brothers players Clynton Knox and Pierce Fitzgerald, which paid dividends for Brothers throughout 2014. He is a proven finisher so it will be great to see his transition into the Country side.
“Going into last week’s game we knew this team had a lot of spirit about it and played with a lot of heart, our performance last week reflected that and we’ll carry that into this week’s match.”
Meehan has also adjusted his reserves bench heading into Saturday’s match, opting for a five-three spilt between the forwards and the backs.
University of Queensland prop Campbell Wakely has come onto the bench as one of two reserve props in the absence of Kirwan Sanday who has been ruled out through injury.
Wakely will be joined by Norths’ hooker Tonga Ma’afu, GPS prop Fred Burke, Easts’ lock Sam Fattal and GPS backrower Mitch King as forwards cover on the bench.
In the backs, University of Queensland centre Rota Setu is in line to make his NRC debut, joining the bench in place of Campbell Magnay. GPS backs James Tuttle and Todd Winkley will fill the remaining two spots on the bench.
Queensland Country play the University of Canberra Vikings at Viking Park in Canberra this Saturday, 6 September, at 2:30pm (AEST).
Bond University Queensland Country v University of Canberra Vikings (Viking Park, Canberra)
1. Haydn Hirsimaki – Sunnybank
2. Ryan Freney – GPS
3. Greg Holmes (VC) – Reds/Sunnybank
4. Rubin Fuimaono – Bond University
5. Dan Gorman – GPS
6. James Turner – Souths
7. Beau Robinson – Reds/Souths
8. Ben Adams – Sunnybank
9. Scott Gale – Reds WTS/University of Queensland
10. Matt Brandon – Easts
11. Giles Beveridge – Brothers
12. Anthony Fainga’a (C) – Reds/GPS
13. Clynton Knox – Brothers
14. Pierce Fitzgerald – Brothers
15. Jamie-Jerry Taulagi – Reds/University of Queensland
16. Tonga Ma’afu – Norths
17. Campbell Wakely – University of Queensland
18. Fred Burke – GPS
19. Sam Fattal – Easts
20. Mitch King – GPS
21. James Tuttle – GPS
22. Rota Setu – University of Queensland
23. Todd Winkley – GPS
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.
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