Youth, not Wallabies, fuel Reds' Super playoffs push

rugby05 June 2024 09:21| © Reuters
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James O'Connor © Gallo Images

Reds coach Les Kiss is banking on youthful exuberance over Wallabies experience as his team looks to turn the tables on the Chiefs in their Super Rugby Pacific quarterfinal on Friday.

Kiss has again found no room for 64-test utility back James O'Connor in his matchday squad while overlooking winger and former Eddie Jones favourite, Suliasi Vunivali, who has not played since a one-week ban for tripping last month.

Instead, 21-year-old Tom Lynagh will start in the number 10 shirt, with 25-year-old Lawson Creighton backing up on the bench in Friday's clash in Hamilton, a repeat of last year's quarterfinal.

Vunivalu has been locked out of the wings by former rugby sevens speedster Tim Ryan and Mac Grealy, a 22-year-old who was largely overlooked by Kiss's predecessor Brad Thorn.

The Reds face a monumental task to upset the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday given no Australian team has won a Super Rugby playoff in New Zealand.

However, the Chiefs may be wary after being pushed hard by the Reds before prevailing 29-20 in last year's quarterfinal.

Lynagh missed two conversions and a penalty kick in that match but Kiss said he would be better for the experience.

"Tom's finals experience last year pays forward for us. With Lawson from the bench, it's a combo that's worked well for us this season," said Kiss.

"I'm very confident in the job they'll do."