Chambers hope for Super 14
DISCARDED Wallabies veteran Phil Waugh is unlikely to play for NSW in the Super 14 pre-season game in Lismore in January, but the Queensland Reds are hoping to roll out their gun rugby league recruit, Will Chambers.
Waratahs manager Chris Webb and his Reds counterpart, former Wallaby centre Daniel Herbert, were in Lismore yesterday to confirm that the match would be played at Oakes Oval on January 23.
And while both teams will be without most of their big names, Herbert was adamant it would provide Chambers with a good hit-out after his conversion from the Melbourne Storm.
Recent press reports have suggested that Chambers wanted to back out of his contract with the Reds after their star player, and newly appointed Wallabies vice-captain, Berrick Barnes, walked out on Queensland to join the Waratahs.
But Herbert confirmed yesterday that Chambers was expected to suit-up for the Lismore trial and strengthen a team made up of Queensland's 'non-Wallabies' and Academy players.
“As well as our non-Wallabies, we have Will Chambers coming over from the Melbourne Storm after their grand final victory,” he said.
“That'll be his first taste of rugby for a little while, so that will be interesting
“There will still be a lot of focus on that game from our point of view, and watching to see how some of these guys turn up and what shape they are in.”
The Waratahs will also be without their big names and they probably won't risk the injured Waugh, who was one of the last men cut from the Wallabies' 35-man Grand Slam touring party.
“He will be undergoing a rehab program. He may or may not be available at that time,” Webb said.
“More than likely he will come up, but he probably won't play.”
So even though Lismore rugby fans won't get to see the stars on show during the trial, the match should still carry plenty of interest, according to Far North Coast rugby organiser Howard Atkinson.
“With the response I'm getting I honestly think we should get 2500 to 3000 people,” he said.
“The event really deserves that number of people because you are going to be seeing some great sports people, some great rugby, at a great venue.
“They start playing the Super 14 competition three weeks after and the first game of the competition is against the Reds, who they are playing in the trial.
“Ewen McKenzie has just been appointed Reds coach, and this will be his first game, and he is coaching against his former side.
“So this game is vitally important for both sides.
“Promotion-wise, the game has everything.”
It had been thought that Crozier Field, with its rectangular lay-out, may have been the better choice of venue, but Lismore's premier sporting ground Oakes Oval won out.
“These are very professional sporting teams and they have a lot of money at stake with their players, so player-wise they need maximum lighting,” Atkinson explained.
Waratahs head coach Chris Hickey and assistant Scott Wisemantel have a strong connections to Far North Coast rugby union, while NSW squad members Ben Coridas and Kane Douglas are from the area.