The return of Leroy Houston and Campbell Magnay to the Reds 23 will add firepower to a Queensland bench that has been underwhelming for the majority of 2017.
Houston’s season suffered a false start against the Jaguares in round four due to an eye injury but he is back in the fold to provide the kind of go forward off the bench that every quality rugby team needs in the final 20 minutes.
The 117kg back rower can break games open with his energetic carries, sheer physicality at the breakdown and quick thinking hands.
He did exactly that for Wests against GPS at Premier Rugby level on Saturday and Reds coach Nick Stiles is excited about the potentially potent impact Houston could bring in the must-win clash with the old enemy.
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“Leroy is hungry, he’s hungry for opportunity,” Stiles said.
“He trained exceptionally hard through the off season – you only have to look at Leroy and see what kind of physical shape he is in compared to how he was years ago and it is a credit to him and how he has worked through that period of time.
“You want to see guys who work hard get opportunities and bringing in someone that is a veteran and that has played in these games before – he knows how tough this is going to be – it’s going to be very good for us.”
Campbell Magnay is similar in that he also boasts game-breaking potential.
The 20-year-old made his return to rugby against Houston’s Wests for GPS after eight months on the sidelines with shoulder and hip injuries.
Whether he comes on in the centres or on the wing, Magnay always makes every touch of the ball count.He has a mature frame that carries a huge fend and long strides that help create an attacking arsenal which can break the line, offload and set up opportunities for others.
Couple that with a strong defensive awareness and the capacity to make momentum-changing hits and you have the perfect impact player for a grudge match.
“He’s got a big frame on him, he’s very athletic footballer and he plays with a lot of aggression,” Stiles said.
“That’s what you need in these interstate games.“In his short career so far he has played some big games for us and you want those guys stepping up and playing big games in interstate battles.”
There is no place in the 23 for Kane Douglas, who has battled for any consistent form this season.
“We’ve got a very competitive second row and he’s probably been off his best over the last few weeks,” Stiles said.
“Kane, when you speak to senior players and you tell them their form is off a bit or they are being dropped, they’ve been round long enough to know exactly where there form is at.
“When I spoke to Kane before the Kings game, he was very aware of his performances and he felt he has been off a bit in training which has transferred into the game as well for him.”
The Reds host the Waratahs at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on radio at RUGBY.com.au.