The Brisbane Global Rugby Tens might turn out to be an audition to find the player who will play fullback for the Reds in the upcoming season of Super Rugby.
The Reds need to do something.
Karmichael Hunt, recently cleared of cocaine possession charges, has not been cleared to resume just yet. Utility player Ben Lucas is not available, as he is rehabilitating following surgery to deal with a balky knee.
Lucas would have been the obvious choice to wear the number 15 jumper when the Reds debut against the Melbourne Rebels on 23 February. He has the skill set and experience to assume the fullback role, but the setback with his knee means that he will not be able to trial for a little while, at least.
Jono Lance is a possibility, as he has played the fullback position before, but he makes a better fly half. He has been dealing with the aftermath of a broken hand (not in a bar brawl as best we know) and he should be adequately healed in time for the upcoming trial game against the Fiji Warrior in a week’s time.
Rugby 10s does not use an official fullback for the 10-a-side format slotted for Friday and Saturday at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium, but players are still under the watchful eyes of evaluators for such things as fitness, alert skills, tackling and running.
Lachie Marnata has had recent exposure in inter-squad trials, but he will need to use the 10s as a platform to prove that he represents a legitimate running option.
The other teams in the Global Rugby Tens competition do not have any of the issues confronting the Reds.
The New South Wales Waratahs have Israel Folua, although the decision was made to hold him out of the 10s for a spell.
The Blues line-up is headed by All Blacks Akira Ioane and George Moala and the Kiwis’ under 20s players that will be blooded as they attempt to gain experience against the top ranks.