Round 2 of the Allsports Physiotherapy Hospital Challenge Cup kicks off this Saturday, April 17, and the competition will this weekend welcome back 20 St.George Queensland Reds squad members, who are all set to pull on their respective club jerseys in their Super Rugby AU bye week.
With opportunities to play club Rugby hindered by COVID over the past 12 months, this weekend provides a rare occasion for many of the players to gain some valuable game time.
For Reds captain Liam Wright, who only made his return from injury in the Reds win over the Brumbies last weekend, he can’t wait to don his beloved Easts colours for the first time since 2019.
“I’m really looking forward to it, it’s a great chance to pull on the Tiger-stripes and get some game time again which I’m looking forward to,” said Wright.
“I’ve been at the club since U11s, played all my junior footy there and straight out of school it was another chance to go and put on the Tigers colours in Colts.
“My last game was the 2019 finals series, unfortunately we didn’t get the job done there, but again it was a great chance to pull on the club colours and I really loved it.
“It was tough watching all last year, I tried to see as much club Rugby as I could, not being able to go down there at all, but the boys were brilliant, the whole club was awesome, and it was going off in the finals winning six-from-six titles.”
Whilst Wright’s career has seen him progress along the pathway all the way through to the Wallabies, he remains humble and closely connected to Easts through his housemates, who all play in the lower grades at Easts.
“I live with three of the Third Grade champions from last year, we’re actually moving to another place even closer to Easts now in Norman Park. It’s awesome living with those guys who keep you really grounded. They distract you a little bit from the grind of what it all can be and it really helps me stay settled.
“I try and get out to watch them play as much as I can, obviously last year was tough, but I was down there for the Australian Club Championship game, and I was down watching Third and Second Grade on the weekend before I had to take off to Suncorp. It’s a real Tigerland household mine is.”
With Reds players only returning to club Rugby for the final regular season round and finals in 2020, Wright believes this weekend provides a great opportunity for the Reds players to give back to their clubs.
“It’s a great reward for everyone to be able to get some real minutes in and it’s also a big thank you to our Queensland Premier Rugby program and all the development the clubs have done.
“You’ve seen how many players have come through the Grades and have now represented the Reds and are doing really well, it’s great for them to get down and play again and I think it should be an awesome weekend.”
Wright will line up alongside Seru Uru and Richie Asiata, who are both returning to Easts, as the face Bond University on the Gold Coast, who will have the services of Alex Mafi, Zane Nonggorr and Angus Blyth.
Brothers will boast Lawson Creighton, Harry Hoopert and Josh Flook in their line-up as they host Wests, who will have plenty of strike power with Filipo Daugunu, Moses Sorovi, Iliasa Droasese, Isaac Henry and Keynan Tauakipulu.
Kalani Thomas, Sam Wallis, Josh Nasser and Mac Grealy will all line up for University of Queensland, as they travel to Chipsy Wood Oval to take on Souths.
Dane Zander will start for Norths as they host GPS at Hugh Courtney Oval, who will welcome back Tuaina Taii Tualima.
All four matches will be broadcast LIVE and ad-free on Stan Sport. Sign up today for a free seven-day trial - www.stan.com.au/sport. Further match details and team line-up information is available via Rugby Xplorer: https://qld.rugby/competitions/senior-rugby/senior-competitions