MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 10: Isaac Lucas of the Reds scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Rebels and the Reds at AMI Park on May 10, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - MAY 10: Isaac Lucas of the Reds scores a try during the round 13 Super Rugby match between the Rebels and the Reds at AMI Park on May 10, 2019 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)

Crazy rule leaves Reds feeling blue

LIVEWIRE Isaac Lucas has been grounded from Saturday night's season-defining interstate clash because the Queensland Reds have lost an exasperating "club v country" debate.

The ruling that Lucas can't play fullback at Suncorp Stadium because he must be in Sydney on the first day of the Junior Wallabies camp seems crazy on many levels.

The Reds are scratching their heads for a fill-in fullback to replace injured Hamish Stewart (shoulder) and might gamble on Duncan Paia'aua as an emergency measure against the NSW Waratahs.

 

Centre Paia'aua is the sharpest, most match-fit back available although there is a strong case for experienced specialist Aidan Toua, who is just back into training after a knee ligament tweak.

Either way, coach Brad Thorn will feel the system is against him because he's sharpened Lucas, 20, in eight games only to be without him for the biggest night of the season.

Any time over the past decade and Lucas would be wearing the No. 15 jersey against NSW.

A string of underwhelming results at World Under-20s Championships forced a review late last year and introduced hard-and-fast rules on access to Under-20s stars playing Super Rugby.

Basically, Lucas needed to play a certain number of Super Rugby minutes by the end of March so the Reds had priority in keeping him over the Junior Wallabies.

Reds Coach Brad Thorn must scramble to replace Isaac Lucas. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images
Reds Coach Brad Thorn must scramble to replace Isaac Lucas. Picture: Chris Hyde/Getty Images

He'd played 199 minutes in six games by then which fell under the threshold agreed by Thorn and his fellow Super Rugby coaches at last year's meeting.

Thorn was on Monday given the bad news on Lucas when he visited Rugby Australia's national talent manager Adrian Thompson in the administration building they share at Ballymore.

"Brad supported the idea at the initial meeting last year and was understanding when we discussed the situation with Isaac," Thompson said.

"Basically, we had to make a line-in-the-sand regarded availability for the Junior Wallabies which was reinforced by beating the New Zealand Under-20s (24-0) this month.

"If you make exceptions this week, there's a different one next week and we're back to coaches meeting their best Under-20s for the first time on the flight to the world titles."

Isaac Lucas (left) has been ruled out of playing fullback at Suncorp Stadium.
Isaac Lucas (left) has been ruled out of playing fullback at Suncorp Stadium.

In other news Quade Cooper's concussion against the Reds may pitch returning Wallaby Matt Toomua into action for the Rebels against the Bulls in Melbourne on Friday night.

Lucas has an Under-20s tune-up game against the Australian Barbarians in Sydney on Tuesday but that doesn't compare to a match that will decide whether Queensland or NSW drop out of finals contention.

The Reds (23 points) are in catch-up mode on the ACT Brumbies (29) and Melbourne Rebels (28) for top spot in the Australian Conference, while the Waratahs (22) are also playing for a lifeline.

The Reds must have a second playmaker in Saturday night's 23-man squad so Kiwi Matt McGahan, the former Blues flyhalf, might enter calculations for the bench for the first time.

He has played five club games since recovering from a broken leg and his direction has enlivened Norths for big wins over University of Queensland (36-26) and Easts (47-13).

Flyhalf Quade Cooper's concussion against the Reds may pitch returning Wallaby Matt Toomua into action for the Rebels against the Bulls in Melbourne on Friday night.

Toomua has arrived in Melbourne after an early release from his English club Leicester and his credentials will be put to immediate use from the bench at least.

News Corp Australia


PARADISE LOST: Angourie surfer's dream flattened

premium_icon PARADISE LOST: Angourie surfer's dream flattened

It may look like paradise, but this idyllic beach is no longer

Rugby Australia arrives in Yamba on a scouting mission

premium_icon Rugby Australia arrives in Yamba on a scouting mission

Dream Big Time program looking for Indigenous talent

OUR SAY: Polls get the wrong people

premium_icon OUR SAY: Polls get the wrong people

Were you polled ahead of this federal election?