Lismore City Council groundskeepers Warren Baxter (left) and Brendon Lane preparing Oakes Oval for the Waratahs v Reds Super 14 trial game this month.
Lismore City Council groundskeepers Warren Baxter (left) and Brendon Lane preparing Oakes Oval for the Waratahs v Reds Super 14 trial game this month. David Nielsen

Waratahs take on Reds in trial

THE NSW Waratahs and Queensland Reds are set to roll out some big names at Oakes Oval, Lismore, on January 23 with both squads far from finalised ahead of the Super 14 kick-off on February 12.

The trial match will be the first of three for the Waratahs in the lead-up to the 2010 Super 14 season but with a plethora of options coach Chris Hickey is keen to get an early gauge on things.

“There’s a lot of competition for places within the squad, and there are a lot of combinations we’re going to have a look at in the coming weeks,” he said.

Incumbent halfback Luke Burgess will be feeling the heat from prodigy Josh Holmes and the Waratahs have also signed former Reds back-up Brendan McKibbin, who is keen to get a guernsey.

One pass wider, Hickey has to find a way to squeeze new recruit Berrick Barnes, incumbent No 10 Dene Halangahu and new Wallaby Kurtley Beale in to the playmaking roles, and the trials will serve as his guide.

Hickey, who coached Ballina Seahorses in the early 1990s, has some big decisions to make and is keen to get the whips cracking as soon as possible with an eye towards a repeat of last year’s opening month where the Waratahs went undefeated.

“You don’t win the competition in January, but unless you get things right at this part of the year then you are going to start the Super 14 on the back foot,” he said.

Hickey’s counterpart Ewen McKenzie is equally excited to put the microscope over his squad, having taken up the role as Reds coach after four years coaching the Waratahs.

The former Waratahs and Wallaby prop is certain to unveil code-hopping Melbourne Storm recruit Will Chambers at Oakes Oval.

McKenzie has put his players on notice that it’s game on when they take the field in Lismore with a Super 14 rematch against the Waratahs looming in February.

“This will be a dress rehearsal for the big one,” McKenzie said.

“Every player who takes the field for us in Lismore will be auditioning for a spot in the squad for the big Suncorp (Stadium) match three weeks later.

“The coaching staff are new to the Reds this year and we will be looking for players who are keen to make the most of the opportunity.”

Pre-sale grandstand tickets prices for the game are: Adults $16, pensioners and children $10.

Tickets are available through ticketek.com orby phoning 132 849.



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