St.George Queensland Reds 2015 flyhalf signing, Duncan Paia’aua, has been named for Bond University Queensland Country’s Round 9 game of the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship against the Melbourne Rising.
Paia’aua, who contested the National Rugby League Holden Cup Grand Final with the Brisbane Broncos Under-20s a fortnight ago, joined Queensland Country training late last week.
Paia’aua grew up in Rockhampton and attended school at Emmaus College. He represented the Queensland Rugby Union Under-16 side in both 2010 and 2011. He will become the 20th player originating from one of QRU’s country regions to represent Queensland Country in the 2014 NRC.
Head coach Steve Meehan is looking forward to seeing Paia’aua’s return to Rugby.
“While Duncan has only been a recent inclusion to Country training, he has already impressed the coaches and playing sqaud with his skill set,” Meehan said.
“It will be a challenge for him to transition back into Rugby after a number of years playing Rugby League but we want him to play his natural game and play what is in front of him. It will be interesting to see how he reacts to the challenge of using his skill set in a live game.
“The Rising are a strong side with a large number of Super Rugby players in their squad and they’re performance throughout the competition reflects that.
“They have been scoring a lot of points throughout games, especially off turn-over ball.
“The Rising pose a challenge for us this weekend and we want to be able to execute our attack and defensive patterns to the best of our abilities. How we perform against the Rising will be a great indicator as to just how far the Country players have come since the start of the competition.
“Our players have improved every week both individually and collectively as a team. I’m confident that when our players next play, whether it be at Super Rugby or club level, they will be better players for the experience and be able to benefit those around them.”
The inclusion of Paia’aua is one of three changes made to the Queensland Country side which recorded a 53-29 win over the Sydney Stars in Townsville last Saturday.
Paia’aua comes onto the bench in place of Giles Beveridge, while Townsville prop Andrew Parker will earn his first start at loosehead prop.
Parker comes into the starting line-up in place of Sunnybank prop Haydn Hirsimaki, who has had to withdraw from this week’s match for personal reasons. Norths front-rower Tonga Ma’afu will take Parker’s place in the reserves.
GPS backrower Mitch King has also been promoted to start at blindside flanker, with James Turner moved to the bench.
King was a standout for Country against the Stars, coming off the bench in the second half to score a try of his own, before making a break down the centre of the field to set up James Tuttle for Country’s final try of the day.
The backline remains unchanged from last week with two-try outside backs Jamie-Jerry Taulagi and Tom Pincus combining with live-wire Pierce Fitzgerald in the back three.
Seventeen-year-old centre Campbell Magnay, who was named ‘Man of the Match’ for his performance against the Stars, will once again start at outside centre alongside GPS teammate Sam Johnson.
Queensland Country play the Melbourne Rising this Saturday at AAMI Park in Melbourne, kick off at 6:00pm (AEDT).
Bond University Queensland Country side to face the Melbourne Rising:
Andrew Parker (Townsville Brothers) – Starting debut
Ryan Freney (GPS)
Campbell Wakely (University of Queensland)
Dan Gorman (GPS)
Blake Enever (Reds/Easts)
Mitch King (GPS)
Jack de Guingand (University of Queensland)
Ben Adams (Sunnybank)
Sam Grasso (GPS)
Matt Brandon (Easts)
Pierce Fitzgerald (Brothers)
Sam Johnson (Reds WTS/GPS)
Campbell Magnay (GPS)
Tom Pincus (University of Queensland)
Jamie-Jerry Taulagi (Reds/University of Queensland)
Michael Parker (Townsville Brothers)
Feao Fotuaika (Sunnybank)
Tonga Ma’afu (Norths)
Rubin Fuimaono (Bond University)
James Turner (Souths)
James Tuttle (GPS)
Clynton Knox (Brothers)
Duncan Paia’aua (Reds) – Potential debut