McKellar asks Lolesio to guide Brumbies to title against Reds
Brumbies coach Dan McKellar had no hesitation in reinstating Noah Lolesio for the Super Rugby AU final after two months out with injury, confident the young flyhalf can drive his team to the title against the Queensland Reds on Saturday.
Lolesio has not played since July 18 when he picked up a hamstring injury, but his earlier form was so good that Wallabies coach Dave Rennie still named him in his first squad last Sunday.
McKellar extended that faith to the 20-year-old for the final against the Reds at Canberra Stadium.
"Noah's got a whole lot of confidence in directing us around the park," McKellar told reporters on Thursday. "He's a confident kid who backs his ability and that's what we want him to do on Saturday."
McKellar said the flyhalf was not only able to play for territory and set up the Brumbies' potent attacking lineout but he can also spark the backline.
"He sees space at times well ahead of others and that's why we've given him the nod," McKellar added.
The Brumbies have scored 24 tries from their lineout in Super Rugby AU, 11 more than the next-best side, so the Reds must be mindful of their discipline and not allow Lolesio the opportunity to kick penalties deep into their territory.
They recall of lock Murray Douglas should bolster the Brumbies set-piece, while McKellar has gone with an all-Wallabies front row to face a young and aggressive Reds pack led by blindside flanker Liam Wright.
Reds coach Brad Thorn had no choice but to invest in youth after he started his tenure in 2018 with a clean out of veteran players like flyhalf Quade Cooper.
He lost captain Samu Kerevi to a Japanese club in 2019 and three others, including Wallabies lock Izack Rodda, earlier this year when they would not agree to take the pay cuts being asked of players amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Thorn, who was able to name Jordan Petaia on the wing after he was cleared of concussion, said all of the challenges his side had faced were worth it.
"Grand final week, this is what it's all about," Thorn said.
"Many of our guys in this group have come through our pathway and club rugby – they've thrived and have grown as men during this year."
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