The Reds will be rolling out their top liners against the Rebels on Tuesday night but Nick Stiles is happy to keep star recruit George Smith on ice until round one.
Smith returned to Brisbane last week after the end of the Japanese Top League season with Suntory, but Stiles was so impressed with youngster Adam Korczyk at the Brisbane Tens that he will be picking him ahead of the veteran.
Korczyk is a highly-rated youngster, starring at U20s level before battling a knee injury, but was a standout for the Reds in the Tens tournament.
Stiles said Smith’s workload coupled with Korczyk’s form had made his decision to play the rookie an easy one.
“He’s (Smith) played so much football, like someone who’s won every trophy in the world to win and played as many games as he has, do we need to push him out in the trial?,” he said, after the Reds’ final Tens match on Sunday,” he said.
“I’m not too sure.
“If you sit down and watch the Tens closely on tape, you notice (Karmichael Hunt) and you notice Eto (Nabuli) and Samu (Kerevi), everyone notices the big runs but it’s the work that gets done behind the scenes that allows those boys to do that.
“I’ll tell you now Adam Korczyk is a very good footballer and he deserves a crack on Tuesday night.”
Hunt is also set to line up in the match after making a return from injury in what appears to be a re-energised Queensland side.
“It’s chalk and cheese to the last couple of years,” he said.
“The boys are really enjoying themselves because we’re putting in a lot of hard work and everyone’s standing up and wanting to be counted for and Stilesy’s obviously encouraged that.”
The Reds breathed a sigh of relief after making it through the Tens tournament unscathed, a far cry from some horror preseason tolls they’ve had in years gone by.
“It’s been an area for the Reds we’ve been poor in, as well, is our injury rate,” Stiles said.
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“We’ve got to the start of seasons and we’ve been picking depleted teams because we’ve been pretty banged up.
“So, we really had a look at what we did as a rugby program and I challenged the staff to, not reinvent themselves, but to do things differently and it’s a full credit to them that we’ve got to this point in time.
“I’m pretty worried about making a final selection for the 23 after the Melbourne game because it’s going to be tough.”
The Reds take on the Rebels at Ballymore on Tuesday night, before hosting the Sharks in round one of Super Rugby.