Reds shocked by loss of young talent
THE shock exit of Wallaby in the making Campbell Magnay to Japan has taken gloss off the Queensland Reds signing two towering young locks for the future.
Centre Magnay is still just 20 but has elected to grab a one-season deal with Japanese champions Suntory rather than play a third National Rugby Championship campaign at the end of Super Rugby.
It has been the busiest 36 hours of player movements for the Reds all season.
The Reds have signed 2.06m stripling Harry Hockings, 18, and his Australian under-20s teammate Angus Blyth, a 2.04m skyscraper at 19, to complete the generational change in their lock stocks after the release of 71-Test stalwart Rob Simmons.
Former Brisbane Bronco Caleb Timu has been re-signed for next season to continue his development as a strong-running 112kg backrower while back-up fly half Jake McIntyre is off after jumping at a deal with French club Agen.
There is a clear intention from Magnay to re-sign with the Reds next season but a Japanese stint will rule out any valuable, body-strengthening pre-season for a player whose history suggests he needs one after the three injuries that have ruined his year.
For all that, so confidently did Magnay throw his 100kg-plus frame into a brutal match simulation at Ballymore training on Monday that Reds coach Nick Stiles is thinking of playing him against the Brumbies at Suncorp Stadium on Friday night.
Magnay has played less than three hours of rugby all season at club and Super Rugby level when Stiles had him earmarked to be a regular starter.
It's hard not to see the strapping Magnay's Suntory decision as impatience.
"Campbell is someone of so much potential and to even think of losing him is a travesty,” Stiles said.
"He wants to come back to the Reds next year and we want to try to find a way.
"He's desperate to play some good rugby after his injuries and he had a really strong training session on Monday so we'll see about Friday night.”
Chris Feauai-Sautia is the other outside centre candidate to replace injured Wallaby Samu Kerevi (ankle).
"We have a really exciting group of young locks going forward, Harry has a real toughness for a forward of 18,” Stiles said.