The Reds have plumped for a fourth halves combination in five games after promoting Tate McDermott to starting scrumhalf for their clash against the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday.

McDermott provided an instant spark when he came off the bench in the Reds’ comeback win against the Sunwolves in Tokyo last week, delivering quick ball at the breakdown and scoring the match-levelling try before Queensland went on to notch their first win of the season.

His efforts have been rewarded with the no.9 jersey this week in one of five changes head coach Brad Thorn has made to his side.

“Tate has been really good in the past four matches off the bench,” Thorn said.

“He showed that last week when he pounced on that ball from (Harry Hockings’) charge down to score.

“He’s been working hard at training and deserves his spot in the starting side.”

McDermott will partner Bryce Hegarty in the halves, with the former Waratah returning from a rib injury at flyhalf, with Isaac Lucas pushed to the bench.

Hamish Stewart has retained his place at fullback.

Attack coach Jim Mackay said McDermott had earnt his opportunity to start.

“Both of the scrumhalves have been working really hard on their games and Tate’s earned his opportunity to start on the back of his performances when he’s come off the bench,” Mackay said.

“It’s a good opportunity to see how he goes starting the game and then Mo (Moses Sorovi) will be there to finish off the game.

“So it’s really a rotation there but Tate’s really earnt a chance to start the game for us.

“They’re both similar style of players, Tate showed a bit of variety in his game last week.

“He put in a nice kick, he had a couple of darts and runs.”

While it’s the Reds’ fourth halves combination, Mackay hoped continuity would come.

Hegarty’s omission last week came by “default” due to his injury and while Lucas played well in his first start in the no.10 jersey, Hegarty’s experience meant he was ushered straight back into the team.

“At the moment, Bryce has got the starting 10 jersey and responsibility, so hopefully we can get some continuity there,” Mackay said.

“He brings a lot of experience for us, has a good understanding of the game plan and at the same time, Isaac has done really well and I’m sure there’ll be many opportunities for him in the short, medium and long term.”

Lucas had started the past two games – at flyhalf against the Sunwolves and at fullback against the Waratahs – but Stewart’s efforts in Japan meant he kept the no.15 for Sunday’s derby clash.

“Hamish had a fantastic game for us at fullback, so it’s just rewarding that good effort there, so he stays in the 15 jersey,” Mackay said.

In other changes, Wallabies forwards Izack Rodda (bench) and Taniela Tupou (tighthead prop) return after being rested last week, while Feao Fotuaika will start at loosehead after his outstanding efforts in Tokyo.

Mackay said Rodda’s benching was a nod to the efforts of the pack against the Sunwolves last week.

“He’ll be terrific, his experience and energy, he’ll be a good guy to bring in as well.”

The Reds need a strong effort at the set piece to combat a Brumbies team that has made their rolling maul a potent weapon this season.

“We’ve identified it as a strength of theirs and we’ve planned around how we can counter that,” Mackay said.

“It’s about how you manage the game to try and deny them a lot of opportunities to do that.”

Winger Filipo Daugunu, who came off the bench to make a crucial run late in the game against the Sunwolves, has also been promoted to the starting side, forcing a reshuffle in the centres, with Samu Kerevi at 12 and Chris Feauai-Sautia at 13 giving the Reds a heavyweight midfield combination to combat the Brumbies.

While they made life difficult for themselves in Tokyo, the Reds were buoyed by their win and Mackay said it was vital they maintained the momentum, especially in conference clashes such as Sunday’s match.

“These three (home) games leading in (to the African road trip) are critical for us,” Mackay said.

“You need to win your conference games.

“For us to make a move in the competition, games like this are really vital for us, so we’re very determined.”

The Reds take on the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Sunday, March 24, kicking off at 4:05pm AEDT (3:05pm local), LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO.


Reds to face Brumbies

1. Feao Fotuaika – Souths

2. Alex Mafi – Bond University

3. Taniela Tupou – Brothers

4. Harry Hockings – University of Queensland

5. Lukhan Salakaia-Loto – Souths

6. Angus Scott-Young – University of Queensland  

7. Liam Wright – Easts

8. Scott Higginbotham – Wests

9. Tate McDermott – University of Queensland

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10. Bryce Hegarty – GPS

11. Sefa Naivalu

12. Samu Kerevi (c) – Souths

13. Chris Feauai-Sautia – Souths

14. Filipo Daugunu – Wests

15. Hamish Stewart – Bond University


16. Brandon Paenga-Amosa – Sunnybank

17. Harry Hoopert – Brothers

18. Ruan Smith – GPS

19. Izack Rodda – Easts

20. Fraser McReight – Brothers

21. Moses Sorovi – Wests

22. Duncan Paia’aua – Norths

23. Isaac Lucas – Sunnybank